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THE 

FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 



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THIS BOOK IS NOT RETVRNABI^ 
OR SUBJECT TO EXCHANGE 

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BEDSTEAD 

Carnjed oak ivooJ ; ivith columns, tester, and head-board of debased classic charaaer, o-rtamented 

in marquetry. English, dated 1^93- Height, 7 ft. 4 m.; 

length, J ft. J I in.; 'width, j ft. 8 in. 



THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CRITICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLATES 

By RUSSELL STURGIS- 
ILLUSTRATED 

COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME 




GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
I 9 I 3 




COPYRIGHT, 1900, I90I, 1908, BT 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OK TRANSLATION 
INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN 



CONTENTS 



Part I 

Part II 

Part III 

Part IV 

Part V 

Part VI 

Part VII 
Part VIII 



Early Southern 
Carved Oak and 
teenth Century. 

Later Southern 
Oak, Walnut and 



Walnut of the Seven- 



Early Mahogany. 



Early New England . 

Imported and Home-made Pieces of the 

Seventeenth Century. 

Dutch and English Periods 
New York from 1615 to 1776. 

New England from 1700 to 1776 . 
Imported and Home-made Pieces of the 
Eighteenth Century. 

Chippendale .... 

And Other Great Cabinet-makers of 
the Eighteenth Century. 

Domestic and Imported Furniture 
From 1776 to 1830. 

Woods, Upholstery and Styles 
Of the Early Nineteenth Century. 

For detailed Contents and List of Illus- 
trations of each Part see the front 
matter immediately preceding the 
above folios. The volume con- 
tains a complete Index 
to the whole 
work. 



PACt 

3 



79 
155 

235 
315 

403 

487 
571 



THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR m^m 

FOREFATHERS 




r:^s::x:::g::x:^:^:s:s:x:^:::^::;g:x:sLx:xs 



THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CRJTICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLATES 
By RUSSELL STURGlS 



ILLUSTRATED 





GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
19 13 




COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY 
DOUBLEDAY. PAGt & CO. 



CONTENTS 



3 



7 
9 
9 

lO 



The Early Settlers ..... 

Their arrival and manner of living; law regulating free grants 
of land made; endeavours to improve dwellings; condition 
of settlements in 1619; further measures taken toward ar- 
chitectural improvement, 1635; the effect of the Indian 
massacre in 1622; gradual improvement of houses. 

Contents of Dwellings Previous to 1650 

General inventories of " necessaries for planters." 

The Looking-Glass ...... 

Its price, make, and raritv. 

The Trenchers ....... 

The Bed ........ 

Its importance ; price ; descriptions of bed and fittings belong- 
ing to various royal personages in England, 10—14; general 
description, 14-18. 

General character of furniture in middle of seventeenth cen- 
tun", 18; its make; style; wood; nationality; style of deco- 
ration; its gradual evolution, 18-21. 

Thomas Deacon's Possessions . . . 21-22 

The Wainscot . . . . . . -23 

The Carpet ....... 24 

Inventory of Leonard Calvert . . 24-26 

Governor of Maryland. 

Miscellaneous Information Regarding Indi- 
vidual Possessions of the Period . 26-29 
Glass ........ 29 

Various Old Letters ... 3^—34 

To private persons descriptive of mode of life in 1686 and 
thereabouts. 

The Estate of Captain Stephen Gill . 34-36 



CONTENTS 



• 38 

• 40 

• 44 
45-51 



The Cupboard ....... 36 

Similaritv to each other in court-, standing-, hverv-cupboard 
and press ; examples from inventories with their prices, 37 ; its 
variations in size and decoration. 

Rooms in Houses of the Seventeenth Century 
Inventory of Mr. Gyles Mode 

of York County, Va., 40, and various other inventories, 44 

The Advance of Luxury .... 
The Chair ...... 

Its makes, prices, upholstering; favourite patterns; inventories 
of various persons, including chairs, with valuations, 46—47; 
descriptions of illustrations of chairs, 48—51. 

Further Increase OF Luxury Among THE Planters 5 2— 54 

The inventory of the estate of Colonel Francis Epes. 

The Box, Chest and Trunk . . . -54 

General description, 54—56 ; description of personal ownership 
of such, 56—57. 

Inventory ...... 58—61 

Contents of house belonging to Nicholas Wyatt, of Maryland. 

The Cabinep ...... 61-62 

Material used for construction ; design, decoration, style, etc. 

The Table ...... 62-65 

Evolution of different styles and shapes; ornamentation, 
design ; prices, etc. 

Books ....... 

Their scarcity and prices, 65 ; libraries of Dr. John Wil 
loughby and of Thomas Perkins, 65-66. 

Table-Forks and Warming-Pans 
Influence of French Renaissance 
Home-Made Furniture .... 
Furnishing of a Court-House . 

of the late seventeenth century period. 

Miscellaneous Information concerning 
Virginian Settler 

His mode of living ; average household goods; the greatly 
increased prosperity of the planter; of settlements, etc., etc. 



. 65 

66-67 
68-69 

• 70 
. 70 



THE 

70-73 




List of Illustrations 



WITH CRITICAL NOTES ON MANY OF 
THE PLATES BY RUSSELL STURGIS 



ALL THE NOTES rVRNISHEP BY MK. STURGIS 
ARE rOLLOM'EO MY HIS INITIALS, K. S. 



F'rontispiece 



FACING 

Bedstead wich very Urge tester supported on separate columns. The material is oak with 
a little inlajr of coloured woods in the headboard. Good taste and a feeling of appro- 
priateness is seen in the modification of such architectural features as the Ionic capitals; 
these being made unusually large and spreading to correspond with the slendemess of parts of 
what may be called the shafts. The free use of reedings is noticeable ; these becoming what 
are called godrons (orgadroons) where they decorate a convcxly rounded surface. R. S. 

Oaken Cabinet .... facing 

Closed cabinet in two bodies, with top also separate. Four cupboards, four drawers. The 
strictly architectural character of the design marks it as of the sixteenth century. The 
freedom of the sculpture and the peculiar forms of the scroll-work suggest a continental 
origin. The piece is probably Flemish and of about 1580. R. S. 

An Old Chair ....... 

Walnut with yoke-shaped top rail, turned tapering side supports under central panel 
curved backwards. There is a beading around the lower curved edge of the seat of the 
chair and the edges of the cabriole-shaped legs. The front and back legs are similar in 
shape. The seat is covered with pile needlework of floral pattern. About 17 10. 

Oaken Stool ..... facing 

Date early in the seventeenth century. The extremely simple decoration is similar to 
that of the mirror frame (see page 16). Height, 8^ inches; length, 16 inches; 
width, l|i^ inches. R. S. 

Seventeenth Century Chair .... 

Painted, high back with top rail carved and pierced over a long panel rounded at top and 
bottom. The seat is pbin frame filled in with the original cane webbing. The legs are 
carved with projecting knees and feet turned outward. A carved and pierced rail joins 
the two front legs. The ornament is of Krolls and foliage. 



Seventeenth Century Chairs 

The chair to the left is said to have been used by Charles II. 
hand was used by Robert Proud, historian. 

Table with Two Flaps 



FACING 

The one upon the right- 



Oak, oval ; the new top stands on six baluster-shaped legs, two of which move in 
sockets to support the flaps. A framework of plain bars strengthens the legs, and on 
one side isa long drawer with carved front. Seventeenth century. Height, 1 feet, 4|^ 
inches. Top, a fieet, 9 inches by 2 feet, 7 inches. 



rAcc 

iii 



1 1 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Eighteenth Century Windsor Armchair . . 14 

Birch ; the back is formed by a curved top rail, a curved central panel, two straight 
pieces and spindle-shaped bars. The flat arm-rail is supported by four bars on each side. 
Cabriole-shaped legs. 

An Old Mirror .... facing 16 

Dated 1603, undoubtedly English. The whole is of oak. This piece, dating from the 
year of Elizabeth's death and the accession of James I, was put together in the simplest 
way with mortise and tenon joints held by pins, but there is a little elaboration in the 
ornament secured by inserting little tesserae of oak alternately light and dark in the flat up- 
rights of the frame. Otherwise the carving is of the most obvious and simple descrip- 
tion, efl«ctive enough, but neither choice nor delicate in its lines. The bounding out- 
line of the fi-ame is certainly not happy. Height, z feet, 3^ inches; width, 2 feet, 
^ inches ; the dimensions being taken over all. R. S. 

Chair op Walnut . . . . . .16 

It is supposedly Flemish. The turning and moulding are skilful, but the sculpture is 
hasty and unmeaning ; dated 1678. 

Small Chest and Table of Oak . facing 17 

Table and small chest ; the table dated 1622. These pieces have been painted. They 
were formerly a part of the furniture of Montacute Priory (Somersetshire) and probably 
the box was intended for offerings. The simple sculpture of the panel on the front of 
this receptacle may be compared with that of the other cabinets ; it is more 
pictorial and descriptive than they and reminds the student of the inlaid Dutch work of 
the epoch in the preference shown for floral forms. There is nothing attractive about 
the table except the graceful outline given to the turned and carved legs. R. S. 

Seventeenth Century Chair of Oak . . 20 

High-backed chair bearing arms which are thought to be those of Thomas Went- 
worth, the first earl of Stafford, minister ot Charles 1, and beheaded in 1641. The 
chair is of about 1630. 

Butter Cupboard of Oak . . facing 22 

Cabinet entirely enclosed, with two cupboards and a secret below, and another large cup- 
board with two doors above, and two large drawers. The material in the present instance 
is entirely oak, and in the sides there are perforations to admit air. Pieces of this pattern 
are often called in England butter cupboards. The decoration is all of the simplest rural 
character, done by clever village carpenters skilled in the use of simple tools and enjoying 
the humble decorations which they applied to the rough pieces they made. As the fram- 
ing of the present cupboard is of the simplest and most obvious sort, the tenons held in 
their places by two pins to each, so the carving is a mere varying of the surface by em- 
bossed figures alternating with slight sinkings ; but nearly all applied with excellent taste, 
and an admirable sense of what figures would truly adorn the panels and solids. The 
very curious framing of the upper doors may be noted. There are no pieces which can 
be called stiles or rails, and the piece which has a tenon cut at one end has a mortise cut 
in its side near the opposite end. Total height, 4 feet, 8^ inches; width, 4 feet, 4 
inches. R. S. 

Seventeenth Century Chair . . . -23 

Armchair of walnut wood. 

Oaken Coffer .... . facing 



Chest bearing the curious inscription "This is Esther Hobsonne chist, 1637." It is of 
oak and unquestionably English. As is common in large coffers of the time in England, 
there is little attempt to make the piece a complete parallelogram on each of its four 
sides with a continuous base of parallel mouldings and a cap or edge of cover to cor- 
respond. Almost any French or German chest of the time would be built on those 
lines, and the horizontal members of top and bottom would have been the controlling 



23 



33 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAG* 

element of thr detign ; while the feet would be additional halls or haluctefihaped 
tenninab. The English chest, however, fre«)uentl)r had, a* in this case, the four up- 
rights which form the two ends of its principal sides carried down beyond the horixontals 
tu form feet fur the whole box. This is to a great extent destructive of the dignity of 
the piece, which, accordingly, has a much more familiar and carelessly designed look. 
This, however, is abundantly made up in the case before us by the admirably adapted 
sculpture. It is seldom that a piece of furniture is found which, covered all over with 
carving, has still that carving so well iitted fur its place, in every part, and so spirited in 
detail. The very simplicity and rustic character of the carving increase this appearance 
o( attractiveness of purpose and fitness of all its parts. Height, z feet, 6 inches j length, 
$ feet, I inch ; depth, 2 feet, J% inches. R. S. 

Seventeenth Century Chair . . . -27 

Chair of the type known as "Curule chair," about 1660. It is in walnut except the 
seat, which is temporary and covered roughly with a piece of velvet. The carving is of 
extreme rudeness and seenu to be not merely hasty but also the work of an unskilled 
hand. R. S. 

Two Armchairs in Jacobean Style . . facing 32 

Two armchairs, Jacobean in style and to be dated about 1630 although the upholstery 
and the very carefully made cane work may well be later. R. S. 

Bedstead with Tester and Hangings . facing 

The visible woodwork is of about 1620—30 ; the upholstery probably fifty yean later ; 
curtains running easily on rings j very well designed hand-made fringes. R. S. 

0\ken Cupboard .... facing 36 

Cabinet dated 1 603. Undoubtedly English work. The material is oak except where a 
tulip plant is coarsely inlaid and where, below the date and below the drawers and the 
inlaid tulip, is a band of alternating squares, light and dark wood. The sculptured bust 
of the lady is of singular grace and delicacy although it shows a hand unpracticed in the 
use of relief in figure subject. That is to say. it is rather the front part of a statue 
copied in the wood than a deliberately made design in relief. The treatment 
of the costume even in its minutest details is unusually effective. The purely dec- 
orative Kulpture is peculiar in the careful avoidance of massive or surface covering 
leafage ; it is all reduced to very narrow ridges and terminal sprigs hardly broader, in this 
closely resembling much of the sculpture of peasant furniture in the far south of France dur- 
ing this and the succeeding century. The wrought iron work is interesting especially be- 
cause of its evident rudeness. It is apparently the work of a country blacksmith. Height, 
4 feet, 2)^ inches i length, 3 feet, loji^ inches; depth, i foot, 9^ inches. R. S. 

Armchair ..... facing 37 

Of about 1650, with upholstering either of the same date or renewed in the original 
style. 

Walnut Chair ....... 39 

Belonging to Sir William Gooch, Governor of Virginia 1727-47. From the original 
in the possession or the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. 

Armchair Dated 1670 . . . facing 40 

Of oak and apparently of English work. The initials I. P. cannot now be identified. 
Although so much later than the cabinet facing page 3 the Kulpture is of almost ex- 
actly the same character ; indicating, perhaps, the rural or remote origin of the piece. 
In days of slow and difficult communication the workmen of an out-of-the-way country- 
nde would be following the traditions of their fathers at a time when the carvers of the 
metropolis and its neighborhood had better advantage from over seas or from the influence 
of the court. This piece can hardly be praised for its design or workmanship. It is the 
rude work of unskilful and not over-tasteful artiuns. R. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACE 

Seventeenth Century Cromwell Chair . . 42 

Armchair of about 1650 with upholstery cither of the same date or renewed in the 
original style. 

An Oak Chair of 1649 . . . . -43 

The stuffed scat is covered with maroon leather over which is a piece of canvas worked 
with colored wools in the manner of a carpet. 

Two Armchairs . . . . . . . 45 

Two armchairs of about 1660, the description in the museum catalogue stating them 
to be of the north of England, Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The one at the right should 
be compared with the " Curule chair" (page 27), which shows a similar handling of 
the rough ornamentation. R. S. 

Two Seventeenth Century Armchairs . facing 41 

Armchair ; dated 1668. Of oak. Armchair of about the same period, of walnut. The 
oak chair has a little very well designed scrollwork and incised ornamentation in the 
panel of the back which corresponds with and repeats the incised figures of the date. 
The walnut chair has no wooden back, not even a top rail, and the seat and back are 
made alike of stamped and figured leather. This leather b of elegant design, the semi- 
heraldic decoration filling the surface of the broad strap very perfectly and with a true 
sense of its significance. On the other hand, the woodwork of the piece is absolutely 
without character, even the little balusters which unite the two straining-pieces beneath the 
seat, having all the appearance of much later work, are simply turned in the lathe. R. S. 

Seventeenth Century Chair . . . '49 

Painted ^ high back with carved and pierced top rail. Back framing and lower rail 
carved and incised, the central panel of the back and seat filled in with cane webbing. 
T'iie legs and two straining rails are spirally turned. Carved and incised front rail. 
About 1660. Owned by W. H. Evans, Esq., Fordc Abbey, England. 

Seventeenth Century Chair . . . • 49 

Walnut, high back, with a long panel rounded at each end and filled in with cane web- 
bing, surmounted by a pedimental piece carved and pierced, supported by two turned pil- 
lars continuous with the cane webbing. The seat is plain frame filled in with cane web- 
bing. The front legs and straining rails are turned. Owned by C. H. Talbot, Esq., 
Lacock Abbey, England. 

High-backed Chair . . . . . -50 

Covered with stamped Spnish leather of a tawny colour fostened with brass studs. The 
front rail consists of two interlacing scrolls. From the original in the Memorial Hall, 
Philadelphia. 

Oaken Cradles .... facing ^o 

Cradle (i), dated 1687, of oak ; (2) cradle, also of oak and of about 1660. Each of 
these very interesting pieces is a simple box with four upright posts at the comers, which 
posts are framed into the rockers in one case by mortise and tenon, in the other by hav- 
ing the end of the post saw-cut for a depth of three or four inches, and the much thinner 
rocker let into this and pinned fast. No. i bears its date on the panel of the foot, the 
lines and the moulding around them being in low relief; the panels on the sides are carved 
with very simple bands of scrollwork with stars and similar decorations, all in slight re- 
lief. No. 2, much more elaborate, is carved all over, framework and panels alike ; 
this also has a covered head-piece apparently for no purpose except greater display. This 
latter has preserved its original velvet cushions. R. S. 

Seventeenth Century Armchair of Carved 

Black Walnut ...... 50 

The legs are turned, the seat is of wooden cane. The back and ht>nt rail are highly 
carved. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Seventeenth Century Chair . . . • 5^ 

Armchair of uncertain date, probably beginning of KTenteenth centur)'. Piece* lo der<M 
of ornament are impo«ible to date accurately. Such furniture, intended to receive its 
•ole decoration from the upholitery, or, at in this ca«e, stamped leather-work and wrought 
nail-heads, were made from I 5$o to 1 800 ; and during all this time their forms did not 
change in any definite way. R. S. 

Cabinet of Oak ..... facing 51 

Cabinet with drawer* ; not dated, but apparently of the closing yean of the seventeenth 
century. This is an elaborate piece intended for the drawing-room or long gallery of a 
mansion ; the outer doors are of oak veneered on the face with hexagonal pieces or wood 
described in the original inventory at ** Thorn Acacia," and the inside also veneered, but 
with oak, except for the border of dark and light squares, which are of rosewood and 
sycamore. The drawers within, eleven in number, are veneered with walnut, with an 
edging of sycamore, but the edge of the framework which supports and encloses them 
it of walnut. The cornice of the cabinet is of pear wood with walnut inlaid in front, the 
separation hardly visible in the picture ; and the cushion-like frieze of the top is the out- 
ndc of the drawer of which the face it of walnut. The cabinet proper, that is to say, 
the enclosed box-like piece, rests upon a table entirely of oak. The pulls of the drawers 
are probably bter than the woodwork, and are not of importance. Such pieces were 
easy to make in the country in the neighbourhood or, perhaps, in the buildings themselves 
of any estate, and a singular tradition exists to the effect than an attempt was made to in- 
clude in the decoration specimens of all kinds of wood found on the estate ; but this 
legend has rather the air of ha\-ing been deliberately invented at a later date. What is 
noticeable it the willing abandonment of all free and untaught decoration on the part of 
the workmen. Evidently a more sophisticated age had come when the only carving al- 
lowed was in the form of cable twisted uprights and horizontals. Height of table, 2 feet^ 
3 inches ; height of box, 2 feet, 5 inches. R. S. 

Oaken Chest of Drawers . . . . 55 

Cabinet or upright chest of drawers of the time of William III ( 1688 to 1702). Th: 
vicious habit, ultimately destructive of all sincerity and character in cabinet work — the 
habit of planting on mouldings — had made some headway in France even at a much 
earlier date, as before the accession of Louis XIV ; but in England the tradition uf solid 
oak and of straightforward carpenter work was slower to gi >e way. The piece is of oak 
with the rosettes and drop handles of brass. Its dimensions are: 4 feet, 4}^ inches in • 
total height, and 3 feet, 2 inches in width. R. S. 

Cabinet ...... facing 56 

Cabinet, the panels of 1630 or the following years and undoubtedly of English work ; 
though the minor decorations of the piece indicate a date of 1670 or thereabout. Such 
remounting of carved panels is not uncommon. The cabinet is entirely in walnut ; the 
earring of the large panels is extremely interesting because of the frank treatment of a 
complicated subject, in each case, by a hand of but little skill. It is this willingness of 
skilled artisans, who were yet not artists of knowledge and power, to do work of decora- 
tive character which makes the furniture as well as the architecture, the silverware and 
the textiles of the seventeenth and the previous centuries so attractive. In our tinw 
these panels would have to be bare of ornament or carved with the most conventional 
foliage, or else entrusted to a sculptor who would charge J>200 apiece for them. 
On the other hand, the purely decorative parts are of but little value. The heads are 
poorly modelled, the seated figures in the spandrels are wretchedly composed, and the 
\tahgf has but little character. An exception may be made in ^vour of the upright 
piUster* beyond the baluster columns of the upper section. It may be thought that the 
three figures in low relief are portraits; the uppermost one might well be James I of 
England and the two lower one* hit tons, the Prince of Wales, afterwards Charles I, 
and the Duke of York, afterwards James II. Total height, 5 feet, 8 inches ; width 
over all, 4 feet, 5 inches. R. S. 

Cabinet ........ 6o 

The upper part w * cupboud with two doots, inclosing thelTcs, and the lower put filled 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



with four drawers. It is oFoak, veneered with various woods, chiefly walnut, and has in 
several panels figured and floral ornament in pear wood inlaid in ebony. About 1670-80. 
Height, 6 feet, 9 inches ; width, 4 feet, 6 inches ; depth, zi^ inches. 

Sections of Seventeenth Century Cabinet 

Decorations similar to the English late Elizabethan or Jacobean style. Flemish, about 
i6zo. Height, 3 feet, 6 inches; length, 4 feet, i inch j width, i foot, 8 inches. 

Seventeenth Century Oak Table w^ith Extend- 
ing Top ..... . . 

Table and stool or short bench ; the table about 1605. It is an extension table ; the 
top in two pieces united by a hinge. The godrons noticed in the bedstead (frontispiece) 
are here relieved, each upon its own fillet ; a kind of combination of Elizabethan " strap- 
ornament" with the Jacobean reedings. R. S. 

Table with Three Flaps . . facing 

Table with triangular top and three leaves. Its extremely small dimensions indicated 
its use as an ornament, or perhaps, as a piece of furniture especially made for a child. It 
is entirely of oak, probably of English make, and its simply turned legs seem to indicate 
a date as of the close of the seventeenth century. Height, 2 feet; top, 2 feet, 5 inches 
in greatest dimensions when the leaves are raised. R. S. 

Walnut Chairs ...... 

Originally b:'onging to Ralph Wormeley of Virginia. Now owned by Mrs. John 
Tayloe Perrin of Baltimore. (See page 51.) 

Chair Showing the Renaissance Influence 

Originally belonging to Colonel William Byrd of Westover, now owned by Miss Elizabeth 
Byrd Nicholas, Washington, D. C. The bick and seat are stuffed and upholstered in 
velvet. The back legs terminate in the hoof form and the front in the ball and claw. 
The leg curves outward from the cover of the seat and is boldly and gracefully carved 
with the acanthus. 

Black Oak Sideboard . . . facing 

Said to have belonged to Lord Baltimore, and to have been brought by him from England, 
when it fell into the possession of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. It is now owned by 
Mrs. Edward C. Pickering of the Observatory, Cambridge, Mass. ( There seems to be 
doubt as to the authenticity of this piece. Experts have stated that it is of a later 
date than that credited to it. ) 



61 

63 
57 

65 
69 



7° 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part 1 




OAKEN CABINET 

Four cupboards, four drawers. 



The character of the sculp- 



In t:to bodies with top also separate. Four cupboards, four drawers. The character of the sc 
ture and scroll-work suggests a continental origin — probably Flemish. Sixteenth century.. 





THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part I: Harly SoutKern 

CARVED OAK AND WALNUT OF THE XVIITH CENTURY 



^EFORE describing the household furniture 
used by the early English settlers in this 

B;^ country, it will be well for us to form a 
V| clear idea of the houses in which they lived. 

r^g The First Plantation of one hundred 

— o— '''^^ gentlemen-adventurers and labourers brought 
with them nothing but the bare necessaries of life — 
food, clothing, and tools. They wasted valuable time in 
hunting for mythical gold ore; and when the First Supply 
(equally poorly provided), consisting of two ships with one 
hundred and twenty persons, arrived (1607), nine months 
later, it found only forty survivors, and of these " ten only 
able men, all utterly destitute of houses, not one as yet built, 
so that they lodged in cabins and holes within the ground."* 
Captain Newport, who was in command of the First 
Supply, had a church and a storehouse built by those under 



*A Briej'e DeclaratitH^ etc. (1615). 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



him, and the cabins of Jamestown were enclosed within a 
palisade. However, fire broke out in the storehouse and 
reduced the whole place to ashes, including the stockade. 
Fortunately, the entire cargo had not been landed, but aid 
was badly needed. Rebuilding was soon begun ; church, 
storehouse, and forty houses of rafts, sedge and earth were 
completed in 1608, and twenty more houses were built in 

1609. All of these, however, were 
hopelessly decayed in 1 6 1 o, as might be 
expected from their construction. 

Sir Thomas Smith, who was now in 

charge, seems still to have directed his 

efforts towards the immediate profit of 

the Virginia Company, rather than the 

safety of the plantation, should supplies 

fail. We learn that the colonists were 

" wholly employed in cutting down of 

masts, cedar, black walnut, clapboard, 

etc., and in digging gold ore (as some 

thought), which, being sent to England, 

AN OLD CHAIR proved dirt." The Third Supply, car- 

rJ:'^:.tX'^:CZ ^ying food and clothing, was sent in 

::^;TE:;eT:UTntrotd ^^^^> ^ut, as most of the provisions 

the lower curved edge of, heseat ^^j.^ jog^ i^ the wreck of the principal 

ot the chair and round the edges r r 

^f^^^-^i^^-^oi^^ess. Tbchcnt ^)^' jj^ ^j^g Bermudas, the colonists 

and back legs are similar in shape. i ' 

The seat is cov«ed with pile ^^j. ^orse off than ever, and the 

needleworlc of floral pattern. ' 

^LyBlS:^S^^l dreadful Starving Time, with its can- 

nibal horrors, followed. 

In 1 610, Lord Delaware arrived with some relief, 
and was followed by Sir Thomas Dale and Sir Thomas 
Gates, each with three or four ships. 

On taking charge. Lord Delaware undertook construe- 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tions of a less flimsy character than before, covering the 

roofs with boards and the sides with Indian mats. On his 

departure, on account of ill-health. Dale succeeded him 

r and still further improved the buildings. He erected a 

; wooden church, storehouses, and many dwellings, with the 

f lower story of brick. Dale made a law by which every 

arriving father with a family was to have, rent free, a 

house of at least four rooms, with twelve acres of fenced 

land, upon which he must grow grain. Dale's eflxjrts bore 

little fruit ; the houses constantly fell to ruin, and Sir 

i Thomas Gates was no more successful when he tried to 

rejuvenate the town ; for when Argoll took command, in 

1617, only five or six habitations were standing. The 

other settlements had fared no better. 

In 1619, ** arrived Sir George Yardley to be Governor. 
For forts, towns and plantations, he found these : James 
City, Henrico, Charles City and Hundred, Shirley Hun- 
dred, Arrahattock, Martin Brandon and Kicoughton, all 
which were but poorly housed and as ill-fortified ; for in 
James City were only those houses that Sir Thomas Gates 
built in the time of his government, with one wherein the 
Governor always dwelt, an addition being made thereto in 
the time of Captain Samuel Argoll, and a church, built of 
timber, being fifty foot in length and twenty foot in 
breadth ; at Paspahayes also were some few slight houses 
built ; at Henrico, two or three old houses, a poor, ruin- 
ated Church, with some few poor buildings in the island ; 
Coxen Dale and the Maine, and at Arrahattock one house ; 
at Charles City, six houses, much decayed, and that we 
may not be too tedious, as these, so were the rest of the 
places furnished."* 

♦if Brit/t Deciaratiom, etc. (1615). 

S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



Amid the struggles and miseries of all these years, we 
may conclude that there was no temptation to import good 
furniture ; and that made by the resident carpenters and 

joiners would be of the barest de- 
scription. 

We find evidence in the records 
that measures were taken to substi- 
tute substantial structures for the 
"poor ruinated" churches referred 
to in the Briefe Declaration. At the 
first vestry meeting of the church 
in Northampton County, Va., Sep- 
tember 29, 1635, it was resolved to 
build a "parsonage house upon the 
Glybe land by Christyde next, and 
that the syd house shall be forty foot 
long and eighteen foot wide, nyne 
foot to the wall plates ; and that ther 
shall be a chimney at each end of the 
house, and upon each syde of the 
chimneys a room, the one for a 
study, the other for a buttery; alsoe 
a partition neere the midst of the 
house, with an entry and tow doors, 
the one to go into the Kitchinge, the 
other into the Chamber." 

In 1622, the Indian massacre 
practically wiped out the outlying 
settlements, and the next year Jamestown contained only 
one hundred and eighty-two individuals. However, the 
successful planting of tobacco in Virginia in 161 2 had 
insured the permanent settlement of the colony through 

6 




I7TH CENTURY CHAIR 
Painted, high back with top 
rail carved and pierced over a long 
panel rounded at top and bottom. 
The seat is a plain frame filled in 
with the original cane webbing. 
The legs are carved with projecting 
knees and feet turned outward. A 
carvod and pierced rail joins the two 
front legs. The orniment is of 
scrolls and foliage. Owned by Mrs. 
McClure. See page 48. 




SEVENTEENTH CENTURY CHAIRS 

The chair on the left is said to have been used by Charles II. The one on the right nuas onuned 
by Robert Proud, historian. Both specimens are in the Pennsylvania Historical Society. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

almost any calamity. In 1623, George Sandys wrote home 
to the authorities that the massacre had produced one good 
result in making the people live closer together for mu- 
tual protection, and would induce them to build frame 
houses. However, they soon scattered again, and, a year 
or two later, Ciovernor Butler testified, from personal 
observation, that the meanest English cottages were more 
sightly and comfortable than the best dwellings in Vir- 
ginia, which were the worst in the world. This, how- 
ever, was denied by the Governor and Council of the 
Colony. The buildings undoubtedly gradually improved 
thenceforward, and the log cabin gave way to the framed 
house. The latter usually had no cellar, but rested on 
sills ; and had a brick chimney at one and sometimes both 
ends. After the arrival o{ Governor Berkeley, in 1642, 
brick entered more largely into the construction of the 
houses. In Jamestown, town lots were granted on condi- 
tion of building a brick dwelling with a cellar, measuring 
sixteen feet by twenty-four, but for long afterwards the 
dwelling of the ordinary planter had only the tirst story 
and chimney of brick. 

We will now proceed to examine the contents of the 
dwellings previous to 1650. 

In the latter year, E. Williams, in Firginia Truly Valued, 
gives a list of "Necessaries for planters." Here we rind 
little more than the Company provided its servants with at 
the rirst settlement. There is a list of "Armes" and 
•*Tooles"; and then comes "Aparell," under which head 
we rind ** Canvase to make sheets, with Bed and Bolster to 
till |rillr| in Virginia, i Rugge and Blankets." Last comes 
•* Household stuffe," including "one great Iron Pot, large 
and small kettles, Skellets, P>ying Pannes, Gridiron, Spit, 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Platters, Dishes, Spoons, Knives." Thus they took no 
furniture with them. The inventories, moreover, show 
that the dwellings were almost bare. Thus, in 1637, 
Adam Lindsay, of York, died possessed of only "one fflock 
bed and covering," valued at 80 pounds in a total of 2036 
pounds tobacco. In the same year, Anthony Panton's 
estate was appraised at 1070 pounds tobacco, and here we 
find only ** one bed-board, one brush, one chest." In 1638, 
"Edward Bateman, carpenter of St. Maries," possessed a 
boat, tools, two bands, a tinderbox, a brush, a rope^ an old 
doublet, a bearskin and a chest. These were valued at 345 
pounds tobacco. These instances are typical of servants 
who had served their indentures, and reveal an almost 
incredible lack of household furniture ; and yet the inven- 
tory of the estate of " Justinian Snow, late of St. Mary's, 
planter," May 24, 1639, shows a most modest state of 
luxury, although he was one of the richest planters in 
Maryland. In addition to knives, nails, smoothing-irons, 
tools, spades, pins, line, thread, ribbon, stuff, " friz," can- 
vas, buttons, hooks and eyes, shot, nets and lines, boats, 
weapons, trunks, chests, wearing apparel in all stages of 
decay, pipes, beads, household linen, provisions, cooking 
utensils and live stock, we find only : 

Tobacco 

2 Looking-glasses 0040 

3 dozen of trenchers 0006 

One bed standing in the Parlor .... 0500 
The Bedde and the Appurtenances in the 

littell Parlor 0250 

a parcell of Bookes 0010 

A parcell of odd household stuff . . . 0100 
3 kettells a chest and Chayer wt other house- 

holde stuff 0100 

the Beddinge Chest and tubbs in the 

Chamber 0160 

i 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The total inventory amounted to 29,766 pounds tobacco, 
and tobacco was then ^^3 19s. lod. per hundred pounds. 

The looking-glasses would cost about $20 each in 
present money. At this date, 1639, looking-glasses were 
found in very few houses, even in England, though, of 
course, metal mirrors were common enough. There they 
did not come into general use until after the Restoration, 
in 1660. They were imported from Venice. As we shall 
see, the looking-glass with gilded or olive-wood frame is 
frequently mentioned henceforward. The olive-wood alone 
would show its Italian origin. Though anticipating some- 
what, it may be as well to note here that looking-glasses 
were small in the seventeenth and early part of the eigh- 
teenth century. When they exceeded four feet in length 
or breadth they were made up of separate pieces, gener- 
ally with gilt mouldings at the divisions. When of Eng- 
lish make, they came from the Vauxhall factory, founded 
by the second Duke of Buckingham, that " chemist, states- 
man, fiddler, and buffoon," who introduced workmen from 
Venice to teach the art of making plate-glass, bevelling, 
etc. Early examples of mirrors are plentiful, and show 
that the frames at the beginning of the seventeenth cen- 
tury were of oak, sometimes ornamented with carving and 
narrow bands, inlaid with small alternate light and dark 
squares of wood, the stand consisting of baluster-shaped 
uprights and claw feet. The looking-glass was sometimes 
fixed on the top of a chest of drawers. Besides the woods 
mentioned above, the looking-glass frame was sometimes 
formed of ebony. In 1653, we find Stephen Gill, in Vir- 
ginia, in possession of one of this material. 

The trenchers, of which Mr. Snow possessed three dozen, 
were wooden platters, the name being derived from the 
French tranche y a slice, when the platter was a slice of bread. 

9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The "household stufF," mentioned in Mr. Snow's 
inventory, undoubtedly included rough tables and benches. 
The "bed standing in the parlour" must have been a 
respectable article of furniture, since its value is set down 
at five times that of three kettles, the chest, the chair, and 
other household stuff. The 500 pounds of tobacco repre- 
sented at least $500 in present money at the valuation 
given. Thus we may conclude that the bed was a luxuri- 
ous piece of furniture. 

Our ancestors liked to lie soft, and, therefore, the 
feather bed is ever in evidence, or, in default of that, the 
flock bed. The importance of the bed during the period 
of which we are treating can hardly be overestimated. 
The "bed" is sometimes mentioned apart from the bed- 
stead, but frequently the word is used to include the bed- 
stead and all its furnishings, as it manifestly is in the inven- 
tory under consideration. We may pause here to describe 
the beds that had been used in England for many centuries, 
and were still in favour there. 

It must be remembered that in Europe the bed-cham- 
ber was a room of great importance, for kings and queens 
received their courtiers in theii sleeping apartments. The 
heavy, imposing four-poster was made a thing of beauty, 
as well as luxury. The framework was often superbly 
carved, while the bed was of softest down, the sheets of 
finest linen, the blankets fine, and the outer covering of 
cloth of gold, samite, damask, or some other costly mate- 
rial, richly embroidered in heraldic devices, or with some 
appropriate emblem. For example, Shaw tells us: 

"Thomas de Mussendun, by will dated 20th July, 
1402, bequeaths to his wife a bed, with a coverlet made 
of velvet and sattin, and paned with ermine in stripes or 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

borders." In 1356, Elizabeth, Countess of Northampton, 
bequeaths to her daughter a bed of red worsted and em- 
broidered. In 1409, Elizabeth, Lady Despenser, does the 
same; as does Lady Elizabeth Andrews in 1474. King 
Edward the Third, in i 377, leaves to Richard, son of the 
Black Prince, "an entire bed marked with the arms 
of France and Eng- 
land, now in our 
palace of Westmin- 
ster." Humphrey de 
Bohun, Earl of Here- 
ford, wills, in I 361, 
to his niece a bed with 
the arms of England. 
Agnes, Countess of 
Pembroke, in i 367, 
gives to her daughter 
**a bed, with the fur- 
niture of her father's 
arms" ; and William, 
Lord Ferrers of Gro- 
by, in 1 368, leaves 
to his son " my green 
bed, with my arms 
thereon"; and to his daughter ** my white bed, and all 
the furniture with the arms of Ferrers and Ufford 
thereon." Edward the Black Prince, in 1376, makes 
bequests ** to our son Richard, the bed which the King 
our father gave us : to Sir Roger de Clarendon, a silk 
bed: to Sir Robert de Walsham, our confessor, a large 
bed of red camora, with our arms embroidered at each 
corner, also embroidered with the arms of Hereford: 




TABLE WITH TWO FLAPS 

(Oak, oval ; the new top stands on six baluster-shaped legs, 
two of which move in sockets to support the flaps. A frame* 
work of plain bars strengthens the legs, and on one side is a long 
drawer with carved front. 17th century. Height, 2 ft. 4'j in. 
Top, 1 ft. 9 in. by a ft. 7 in. ) 



II 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

to Mons. Alayne Cheyne, our bed of camora, powdered 
with blue eagles." His widow, in 1385, gives " to my dear 
son, the King [Richard the Second], my new bed of red vel- 
vet, embroidered with ostrich feathers of silver and heads 
of leopards of gold, with boughs and leaves issuing out of 
their mouths : to my dear son, Thomas, Earl of Kent, my 
bed of red camak, paied with red and rays of gold : to my 
dear son, John Holland, a bed of red camak." In 1368, 
Robert, Earl of Suffolk, bequeaths his ** bed with the 
eagles"; Sir Walter Manney, in 1371, "all my beds and 
dossers [dossers were put at the backs of chairs and tables] 
in my wardrobe, excepting my folding bed, paly of blue 
and red" ; and Edmund, Earl of March, ** our large bed 
of black satin, embroidered with white lions and gold 
roses, with escutcheons of the arms of Mortimer and 
Ulster," in 1380. Margaret, Countess of Devon, in 1391, 
leaves to her son Peter, "my bed of red and green paly"; 
Richard, Earl of Arundel, in 1392, to his wife, Philippa, 
"a blue bed marked with my arms and the arms of my 
late wife, also the hangings of the hall, which were lately 
made in London, of blue tapestry with red roses, with the 
arms of my sons, the Earl Marshall, Lord Charlton, and 
Mons. Willm Beauchamp; to my son Richard, a standing 
bed, called Clove ; also a bed of silk, embroidered with the 
arms of Arundel and Warren ; also, to my said son, the 
hangings of the large hall, of the arms of Arundel and 
Warren quarterly : to my dear son Thomas, my blue 
bed of silk, embroidered with griffins: to my daughter 
Charlton, my bed of red silk : to my daughter Margaret, 
my blue bed." Sir John Cobham, in 1394, "a red bed 
embroidered with lions, also a bed of Norwich stuff em- 
broidered with butterflies" ; and Alice, Lady West,in 1 395, 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

"a bed paled black and white" and "a bed of tapiter's 
work." John, Duke of Lancaster, in 1 397, disposes of 
"my large bed of black velvet, embroidered with a circle 
of fetter-locks [the badge of the house of Lancaster] and 
garters, and the beds made for my body, called in England 
trussing beds, my white bed of silk with blue eagles 
displayed"; and Thomas, Earl of Warwick, in 1400, "a 
bed of silk, embroidered with bears and my arms with all 
thereto appertaining." In 141 1, Joanne, Lady Hunger- 
ford, leaves "a green bed embroidered with one grey- 
hound"; and in 141 5, Edward, Duke of York, "my bed 
of feathers and leopards, with the furniture appertaining to 
the same; also, my white and red tapestry of garters, fetter- 
locks, and falcons [badge of the house of York], my green 
bed, embroidered with a compas." In 1434, Joanne, 
Lady Bergavenny, devises "a bed of gold swans, with 
tapettar of green tapestry, with branches and flowers of 
divers colours, and two pair of sheets of Raynes, a pair 
of fustians, six pairs of other sheets, six pairs of blankets, 
six mattresses, six pillows, and with cushions and bann- 
coves that longen to the bed aforesaid ; a bed of cloth of 
gold with lebardes, with those cushions and tapettes of my 
best red worsted that belong to the same bed, and ban- 
cours and formers that belong to the same bed; also, four 
pairs of sheets, four pairs of blankets, three pillows, and 
three mattresses; a bed of velvet, white and black paled, 
with cushions, tapettes, and formez that belong to the same 
bed, three pairs of sheets, three pairs of blankets, three pil- 
lows, and three mattresses; a bed of blue baudekyn (the 
richest kind of stuff, the web being gold and the woof 
silk, with embroidery), with cushions, tapettes of blue 
worsted, the formez that belong to the same bed, four 

«t 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



pairs of sheets, four pairs of blankets, four pillows, and 
four mattresses; my bed of silk, black and red, embroid- 
ered with woodbined flowers of silver, and all the costers 
and apparel that belongeth thereto, twelve pairs of sheets, 
of the best cloth that I have save Raynes, six pairs of 
blankets, and a pane of menyver; and my best black bed 

of silk, with all the apparel of a 
chamber, of the best black tapetter 
that I have, six pairs of sheets," 
etc. The pane of minever or fur 
was succeeded by the counterpane 
(see page 17). Raynes sheeting 
was a linen fabric originating at 
Rennes. It will be noticed in 
the above that one bed is called 
"Clove." It was a practice to 
name beds in the Tudor period ; 
for example, Wolsey had one called 
** Infantilege " and another called 
" The Sun." 

Camak was a fabric, of silk 
and fine camel's-hair, sometimes 
called also camoca. Bancours (Ger- 

four bais on each side. Cabriole-shaped i • i /- 

legs. Lent by c. H. Talbot, Lacock man, odnk wercj, a kmd of tapestry. 

"Green and red paly" is the 
heraldic term for vertical, equal alternate stripes of those 
colours. 

The heads of the most ornate bedsteads were frequently 
carved. Sometimes grotesque figures were employed on 
each side to hold the curtains when they were drawn back. 
Frequently shelves were placed in the headboard, an old 
custom, for Chaucer alludes to them when, in speaking of 

»4 




I 8th century WINDSOR 

ARMCHAIR 

Bir> h ; the back is formed by a 

curved top rail, a curved central panel, 

two straight pieces and spindle-shaped 

bars. The flat arm rail is supported by 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the studious taste of the scholar in The Gierke s Tale^ 
he says : 

" Ftr him was Itber han at his beddes hedy 
A twenty bakes clothed in black or red." 

On this narrow shelf were placed medicine bottles, 
books, and candlesticks, and occasionally a secret cupboard. 
In some cases these cupboards contained a shrine. Reli- 
gious sentiment was always bestowed upon the bed in 
mediaeval days, for not only were angels and cherubs dis- 
posed about the canopy or tester and the carvings Biblical 
or allegorical, but people taught their children this rhyme: 

** AlattheWy Marky Luke^ and John^ 
Bless the bed that I lie on ; 
Four corners to my hed^ 
Four angels round my head; 
God within^ God without^ 
Blessed fesu all about.** 

Another version is as follows : 

** MattheWy Marky Luke^ and John^ 
Bless the bed that I sleep on^ 
Two angels at my head^ 
Four angels round my bed ; 
Two to watch and two to pray^ 
And two to carry my soul away" 

Sometimes the central panel of the bedstead had a 
secret spring so that it could be used as a means of escape 
into the adjoining chamber or into a secret passage. Also 
cupboards were sometimes concealed artfully in the bases 
of the footposts, which were often ten or fourteen inches 
square. 

The " sixteen-post " bedstead had five small posts on 
the two footposts, which count as twelve, and the two 
headposts as two each. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



The famous " Great Bed of Ware," still in existence, is 
one of these. This is seven feet six inches high, ten feet 
nine inches long, and ten feet nine inches wide. 

In olden times the 
mattresses of the beds 
rested upon ropes, which 
were laced from side to 
side, and these ropes were 
in time succeeded by a 
"sacking bottom" that 
could be stretched as 
tightly as was needed. 

These beds, in a more 
or less elaborate form, 
still existed during the 
seventeenth century, and 
our forefathers in the 
Southern States regarded 
them with great affec- 
tion. 

We know that the 
wealthy English planters 
of Maryland and Vir- 
ginia set quite as much 
store by their beds as 
they did at home. We 
have evidence of this in 
the wills, as well as in the prices at which these articles of 
furniture were appraised. 

As we have seen, the beds were quite luxurious, and, 
in families who were at all comfortably situated, the cur- 
tains and valance always appear. Against the strong 

i6 




CHAIR OF WALNUT 
(The back is composed of two rows of arcades, and 
the legs are baluster-shaped. Flemish; dated 1678. 
From original in the South Kensington Museum.) 




AN OLD MIRROR 

Glass in oak framt 'with carvtd scroll outline and narrotv bands inlaid ivitb small squares of ivoodf 

alternately light and dark. The uprights and feet of the stand are baluster-shaped. English. 

The frame dated l6oj, but the glass nineteenth century. Height, %fi.^yi in.; tuidtbt 14 >i in. 




SMALL CHEST AND TABLE OF OAK 

Both of these pieces have been painted. The table is car'veJ in high relief round the sides of the framing, luitb 
heavj baluster legs, car-ved and fluted. Dated 1622. The chest is Dutch in design and pattern. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

draughts the valance, derived from the French avaler^ to 
let down, was always of the same material as the* curtains. 
Bright colours were preferred to white. The favourite 
materials were : drugget, a cloth of wool, or wool mixed 
with silk; serge, another woolen cloth, frequently scarlet 
in hue; green and flowered Kitterminster, or Kiddermin- 
ster ; coarse linsey-woolsey ; and dimity, a stout linen cloth, 
originally made at Damietta, interwoven with patterns. 

Another material is darnick (see inventory of Nicholas 
Wyatt, page 60). This was a coarse kind of damask, origi- 
nally made at Dorneck (the Dutch name forTournay). It is 
also applied to certain kinds of table linen, and "silke dor- 
nex" also occurs. Perpetuana was a woolen fabric that 
received its name because of its durable qualities. Ben 
Jonson mentions it in Cynthia s Revels (i 601), and Dekker 
in Satiromastix (1602). Calico was originally a somewhat 
coarse cotton fabric. As we know, it took its name from 
Calicut in India, where it was first manufactured. We 
find many examples of calico curtains that were printed 
with variously coloured floral and other designs. 

Before finishing with the bed, we may mention that 
the "counterpoint," or "counterpane," was so called from 
its being worked in square or diamond-shaped figures. 
Shaw says that the pane of minever or fur was succeeded 
by the counterpane, i. e., one that was contrepointe^ or 
having knotted threads stitched through. He derives the 
word from the Latin pannum^ a cloth, a garment, a rag. 

The beds were sometimes the cause of dispute. Thus 
the Maryland Provincial Court had to settle one in 1642. 
" Edward hall demandeth of mr. John Langford, Esq. 500 
lb. tob. for damage for non-pformance of a bargaine for the 
delivery of a flockbed and a rug, the said mr. Langford 

«7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

denieth the non performance." The plaintiff got judg- 
ment for- loo pounds tobacco, and the " Secretary adjudged 
one of the bedds to be delivered that ffrancis the carpenter 
or John Greenwell lay upon at Pinie neck within 7 daies 
or els 100 lb. tob." 

The settlers soon found a native substitute when they 
could get neither feathers nor flock. The latter was wool, 
or ravelled woollen material. In 1645, John Eaton, 
of York County, Virginia, died possessed of an "old 
bed stuffed with cattayles and old rugg," and nothing else 
in the nature of furniture. Cat-tail beds and cat-tail mixed 
with feathers are frequently found in the inventories after 
this. In 1685, for example, we find John Clayborn with 
a canvas bed filled with cat-tails and turkey feathers. 

It must be remembered that we are still in the period 
prior to the Renaissance, which is just about to dawn in 
France. The prevailing furniture has no graceful curves, 
and depends almost entirely on carving for its decorative 
effects and on cushions for its comfort. Many a Virginian 
planter's house has the atmosphere of an Elizabethan manor 
house. We feel that English homes have been trans- 
planted, but have suffered no change. This will appear 
more clearly from a consideration of the household posses- 
sions of Thomas Deacon, of York County, Virginia, in 1 647. 

We may pause here to consider the general character- 
istics of the furniture of this period, which, as we have 
seen, was Elizabethan and Jacobean. 

There is not any radical difl^erence in the two styles 
prevalent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as an 
English authority thus explains : " When the Stuart period 
succeeded the Tudor, it retained the latter's general charac- 
teristics, but the forms of carving grew heavier and the 

18 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

execution coarser. The table legs, baluster newels, and 
cabinet supports had enormous acorn-shaped masses in the 
legs in the middle. The great hall tables, instead of being 
moveable on trestles, became of unwieldy size and weight. 
The scroll-work had been bold but light, and the general 
surface of important mouldings or dividing members not 
cut up by the ornamentation. The panels were generally 
covered with graceful figure subjects, commonly Biblical. 
As the years advanced into the seventeenth century, Flem- 
ish work became bigger and less refined. Diamond-shaped 
panels were superimposed on square ones, turned work was 
split and laid on, drop ornaments were added below tables, 
and from the centres of the arches of arched panels — all 
unnecessary additions and encumbrances. The Jacobean 
style had borrowed its style of carving from the Flemish. 
The Flemings and the Dutch had long imported wood- 
work into England, and to this commerce we may trace 
the greater likeness between the late Flemish Renaissance 
carving and corresponding English woodwork than between 
the English and the French. Though allied to the Flem- 
ish, Dutch designs in furniture were swelled out into 
enormous proportions."* 

One of the patterns characteristic of the period is the 
" interlaced strapwork." This is made by sinking the 
groundwork a quarter of an inch below the surface. Fre- 
quently this strapwork is used to encircle the coat-of-arms, 
which the Elizabethan carvers were fond of introducing on 
bed, chest, cabinet, chair, and, in short, wherever an oppor- 
tunity was afforded. 

In almost every case, hammered iron was used for the 
furniture-mounts, i. e., lock-plates, hinges, and handles. 

•W. H. PoUen. 

19 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



Not only are these hints 
as to the general appearance 
of the Elizabethan and Jacob- 
ean furniture, but the knobs, 
and bosses, and panels, cut 
in the shape of diamonds 
and lozenges, suggest the art 
of the lapidary in their facet- 
like effects, and the constant 
use of the table-cut facet and 
the symmetrical arrange- 
ment of the ornaments are 
not unlike the work pro- 
duced by the tailors and 
dressmakers of the period in 
gowns and doublets. 

However, in England, 

during the reign of Charles 

II and James II (1660— 

1690), although French fur- 

u YA H^^m^ niture was being sent across 

^^M iH the Channel, the carved oak 

furniture still lingered, es- 
pecially in country houses, 
where fine specimens may 
be sfeen to-day. 

"The material of which 
the old furniture was constructed," says William Bliss 
Sanders,* " was, almost without exception, good English 
oak, than which few woods offer greater advantages to 




I7TH CENTURY CHAIR OF OAK 
(The panels of the back are carved with floral 
ornament and the arms of Thomas Wentworth, 
first Earl of Strafford. From the original in the 
South Kensington Museum. ) 



* Examples of Carued Oak IVoodiJuork in the Houses and Furniture of the Six- 
teenth and Seventeenth Centuries (London, 1883). 



THE FURISITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the cabinet maker, from the beauty of its colour and 
markings, its suitability for most domestic purposes, and 
its strength and durability. Nor was any labour or ex- 
pense spared by our ancestors in giving to the English 
wood the full advantage of its natural good qualities. 
Instead of sawing the timber required for paneling into 
thin parallel pieces (as is now done with the view of 
saving the timber), it was the old custom to rive the 
wood used for this purpose. This made it impossible to 
use any but the best parts of the tree, viz.: that portion 
of it which grew between the ground and the commencement 
of its branches. After the knots began to appear — which, 
as the feeders of the branches, follow their direction to 
the heart of the tree — the planks could no longer be riven. 
Evidence of the custom of riving the wood may be found 
in the woodwork of most old buildings, where the panels 
may often be seen inserted in the framing in the wedge- 
like form in which they were riven. In these cases, a 
thick shaving was cut off the thicker edge of the panel to 
make it thin enough to fit into a narrow groove in the 
framing formed to receive it — one side of the panel being 
wrought fair, and the other generally left rough, as riven. 
A certain quantity of foreign oak was also imported for 
cabinet-work at this time, but this was chiefly for the use 
of the wealthier classes, and by far the greater part of the 
oak used in the houses of the country squires and well-to- 
do yeomen was cut from trees of English growth. Many 
of the larger pieces of furniture, indeed, were not unfre- 
quently put together in the rooms they were destined to 
occupy, and constructed of oak grown upon the estate to 
which the house belonged." 

And now let us see what Thomas Deacon owned. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

His house seems to have contained only two rooms, 
though he was by no means poor. 

In the Hall. 

lb. tob. 

One long framed table and forme and a stript 

Carpet, ...... 200 

One short framed table and one low forme 
and carpet, one old cort cubbert and small 
carpett, . . . . . .100 

One long wainscott settle a wainscott cheare 
an old turned couch 4 old joynt stools and 
trundle bedstead, ..... 200 

In the Chamber. 

One frame table and carpet, a framed couch 
and old cort cubbert and a carpet and a 
very old chair, ..... 200 

Four old chests, 2 old trunks 5 old cases and 

2 small boxes, ..... 200 

Two feather beds and appurtenances incld 

curtains and vallence, .... 500 

2 old bedsteads 3 old certains and vallence 
one couch flock bed another couch bed of 
cattails and two old coverings, a frame table 
and form, . . . . . - 35^ 

(dishes, plates, spoons, plate, &c.) . . 400 

(Cooking utensils, etc.) .... 900 

(pans, kettles, andirons, tools, etc.) . . 1000 

The court cupboard mentioned in the above inventory 
and long used in England was a kind of sideboard or cabi- 
net, composed of light, movable shelves, Plate was gen- 
erally displayed upon it. We read in Romeo and Juliet 
(1578) : "Remove the court cupboard, look to the plate;" 
in Chapman's Mons. D' Olive (1606): "Here shall stand 
my court cupboard with its furniture of plate;" and in 




BUTTER CUPBOARD OF OAK 

h ttvo parts. Tb* tipper portioM has two doors JivUtd ty a framed panel. The doors and framimg are 

incised luith conventional designs. At the sides there are perforations to admit air to the inside of the 

cupboard. The lonver part of the cupboard is also carved. About 1620. 







tt 

o 



•?\ a 









5^ t 






^..J 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



Cogan's translation of Pinto's Travels^ xxiii (1653): 
"Three court cupboards placed, upon the which was a 
great deal of fine pourcelain." Sometimes these court 
cupboards were ornamented with carvings in low relief, 
and we find Corbet describ- 
ing a man "with a lean 
visage, like a carved face 
on a court cupboard." 

The ** wainscott settle " 
and "cheare" were evi- 
dently of oak, the name, 
according to Skeat, being 
derived from the Low 
Danish wagetisc/iot^ ** the 
best kind of oak-wood, 
well-grained and without 
knots." The same au- 
thority tells us that 
"wainscot in the building 
trade is applied to the best 
kind of oak timber only, 
used for panelling because 
it would not *cast' or 




i8th century chair 

Armchair of walnut wood. 



warp. 

That wainscot was ap- 
plied to the wood rather than to the panelling we learn 
from Harrison's Historicall Description of the Hand of 
Britainey prefixed to Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), where 
he says that the oak grown in Bardfield Park, Essex, 
"is the finest for joiners* craft, for oftimes have I 
scene of their works made of that oke so fine and 
fair as most of the wainscot that is brought hither 



»3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

out of Danske, for our wainscot is not made in Eng- 
land." 

It will be noticed in the above inventory that several 
carpets are mentioned. The reader must riemember that 
these are not floor-coverings, which were not in general 
use till nearly a century later, but merely table-cloths and 
cupboard-cloths. Sometimes, also, we find that the cup- 
board was covered by a cushion. We learn from an old 
authority that the carpet, "a coarse hanging for a table, 
made of rough woollen material and of patches, of motley 
colours," was known as early as 1291, while Sir H. Guild- 
ford's goods included "a carpet of green cloth for a little 
foulding table " (1527). 

The carpets in this country were of leather in many 
cases; we also find them of calico, and there is frequent 
reference to striped and "streked" carpets. Elizabeth 
Butler bequeathed to her daughter Elizabeth (1673) a 
"Turkey carpett." 

The inventory of the possessions of Leonard Calvert, 
Governor of Maryland, who died in 1 647, will give a clear 
idea of the domestic luxury of a gentleman of importance 
in the infant days of the colony. We should conclude 
that he belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, even if 
history told us nothing about him. (The rug that gen- 
erally accompanies the bed and bolster was a kind of heavy 
coloured blanket. The colours are frequently mentioned 
in the inventories. It will be noticed that his lordship did 
not sleep in sheets.) 

IN Tob: & Cask. 

lb. 
Imp 13 Bookes, . . . . .0160 

8 old napkins, ...... 0024 

6 towells, . 0018 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



IN ToB : 6c Cask. 

2 lbs. 5^"' Finns, .... 
It ^' of white thread, 

2 pr of new Holland socks & ^4 ells of 
Hollan, ..... 

I pr Shoes, ..... 

A Table Booke & a Discipline, 

2* of Sweet head powder, . 

A bone Crosse, .... 

3 small bitts of Syluer plate, 
A small payre of brasse Compasses and a 

Violl glass, ..... 
A syluer sack cup, .... 
I old Bed & bolster & i old greene Rug, 
I uery old feather- Bed, 
1 old fflock Bed & Bolster & i old Red 

Rug, 

I cloake bag, ..... 

An empty case w'^'out bottles & another 

old Case w'** 4 bottles, 
A Blew Jugge, .... 

A white box w'^'out lock or key, 
A red-leather-lFe case, 
An old trunk w'^ a lock & key, 
An iron Pott, ..... 
5 old Pewter dishes i bason 5 plates, 
1 2 pewter spoones, .... 
A Joyned Table, 2 chayres, & a forme, 
An old brasse kettle, 
A gold Reliquary case, 
A uery little Trunck, 
A great old square chest, . 
A kneeling desk & a picture of Paules, 
An old frame of a chayre, 2 combs, & a hatt 

brush, ...... 

one Rugge, ..... 

»s 



lb. 

0004 
0008 

0018 
0040 

0030 

0004 
0020 

0030 

0004 
0150 

0350 

0060 

0080 
0010 

0010 
0006 
0030 
0002 
0040 
0050 
0150 
0024 
0200 
0100 
0150 
0020 

0030 

0050 

0022 
0x550 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

IN ToB : & Cask. 

lb. 

Tools, arms, nails, horses, harness, sugar and 
tobacco in addition, and a large howse w^** 
3 Manno"^ belonging to it att Pyney neck, 7000 

A large framd howse, w'*' 1 00 Acres of Town 

Land, ....... 4000 



Amounting to 25,494 in all. 

Though it is safe to conclude that most of the gentry 
brought no furniture with them originally, we have evi- 
dence that as soon as they had built a suitable house on 
their plantation they imported from England the things 
they were accustomed to have about them at home. Pory 
bears witness that it was possible to get rich quickly in 
Virginia as early as 1617. "The Governor here [George 
Yeardley] who at his first coming, besides a great deal of 
worth in his person, brought only his sword with him, 
was at his late being in London together with his lady, 
out of his mere gettings here, able to disburse very near 
three thousand pounds to furnish him with the voyage." 
He also shows us that fashion was by no means neglected 
or despised : ** We are not the veriest beggars in the world. 
One cow-keeper here in James City on Sunday goes 
accoutred in fresh flaming silk, and a wife of one that in 
England had professed the black art, not of a scholar but 
of a collier of Croydon, wears her rough beaver hat with 
a fair pearl hat-band and a silken suit thereto correspon- 
dent." 

Some of the planters came here to try the country, and 
when they liked it and prospered they then brought over 
their household goods and settled permanently. Some had 

a6 



THE FURNITURE OF Ol R FOREFATHERS 



estates in both countries and returned to die at home, 

while others died here possessed of estates in England. 

When we read of the length, dangers and miseries of the 

Atlantic passage at that day we are astonished to find that 

it was by no means an 

uncommon thing for a 

planter to make several 

visits to England. In 

spite of the wretched 

accommodations on 

board, the passage was 

often very expensive. 

In 1659 we find: **To 

Mr. John Whirken 

who went over in the 

Thomas and Ann ship 

£'2.i-\ i-o." It must 

also be remembered 

that the purchasing 

power of money was 

about five times what 

it is now. It would 

naturally be the better 

class of furniture that 

the planter would bring with him on his return. In 

his absence he left his plantation in charge of an agent, 

and sometimes he did not find things as he left 

them. There were turbulent spirits in the colony. 

The court records of March 22, 1652, give an instance 

of this: 

"The humble complaint of Thomas Cornwallis, Esq., — 
Showcth 




I7TH CENTURY CHAIR 

(Carved walnut wood, a child's folding chair. Flem'uh. 
About 1660. Height, i ft. I in.; width, 14 ^ in.) 



*7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

" That whereas it is well knowne that the Complt was 
one of the Chiefe and first Adventurers for the planting of 
this Province, and therein besides the danger and hazard of 
his life and health, Exhausted a Great part of his Estate not 
only in the first Expedition, but also in yearly Supplyes of 
Servants and Goods for the Support of himself and this 
then Infant Collony by which and God's Blessing upon 
his Endeavours, he .had acquired a Settled and Comfortable 
Subsistence haveing a Competent Dwelling house furnished 
with plate, Linnen, hangings, beding, brass, pewter and all 
manner of Household Stuff worth at the least a thousand 
pounds, about twenty Servants, at least a hundred Neat 
Cattell, a Great Stock of Swine and Goats, some Sheep and 
horses, a new pinnace about twenty tunn well rigged and 
fitted, besides a New Shallop and other Small boates, with 
divers debts for Goods Sold to the quantity of neare A 
Hundred thousand weight of Tobacco, all which at his 
going for England in or about April 1644 he left and 
deposited in the care of his Attorney Cuthbert fFenwick, 
Gent, who in or about ffebruary following comeing from 
the Ship of Richard Ingle Marriner, was, as Soon as he 
Came ashore. Treacherously and illegally Surprized by the 
said John Sturman and others, and Carryed aboard the said 
Ingles Ship, and there detained and compelled to deliver 
the Complts house, and the rest of the premisses into the 
possession of Divers ill disposed persons whereof the Said 
Tho. and John Sturman and Wm. Hardwick were three 
of the Chiefe, who being Soe unlawfully possest of the 
Said house, and the premisses, plundered and Carryed away 
all things in It, pulled down and burnt the pales about it, 
killed and destroyed all the Swine and Goates, and killed 
or mismarked almost all the Cattle, tooke or dispersed all 

z8 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the Servants, Carryed away a great quantity of Sawn Boards 
from the pitts, and ript up Some floors of the house. And 
having by the Violent and unlawfull Courses, forst away 
my said Attorney, the said Thomas and John Sturman 
possest themselves of the Complts house as theire owne. 
dwelt in it soe long as they please, and at their departing 
tooke the locks from the doors, and the glass from the 
windowes, and in fine ruined his whole Estate to the dam- 
age of the Complt at least two or three thousand pounds 
for which he humbly craves," etc. 

This gives us an interesting glimpse of a wealthy plan- 
ter's house. The above Thomas Cornwallis finally re- 
turned to England and died there. 

We have now completed our rapid survey of the houses 
and their contents during the first half of the seventeenth 
century. The colony had become prosperous and immigra- 
tion was greatly stimulated. As the author of Leah and 
Rachel (1656) maintains, Virginia and Maryland were 
pleasant in many ways, one of which was : 

" Pleasant in their building, which although for most 
part they are but one story beside the loft and built of wood, 
yet contrived so delightful that your ordinary houses in 
England are not so handsome, for usually the rooms are 
large, daubed and whitelimed, glazed and flowered, and if 
not glazed windows, shutters that are made very pretty and 
convenient." Glass was scarce and costly. As we have 
just seen. Ingle's piratical crew stripped Mr. Cornwallis's 
windows of their panes and we have a means of arriving 
at the actual value since in the hall of Mr. William 
Hughes, in 1661, there was "ten paine of glass abt. 23)/^ 
foot " appraised at twelve shillings. 

The above quotation from Leah and Rachel of course 

»9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

refers to the humbler abodes. The richer planters' houses, 
as we have seen, were larger and better furnished. Every 
plantation became a little settlement with its wharf, at 
which ships loaded and discharged direct from abroad. 
Clothing, furniture and all kinds of merchandise were im- 
ported direct and paid for in the tobacco raised on the spot. 
The bountiful rivers of Virginia facilitated this system. 

" No country in the world can be more curiously wa- 
tered. . . . The great number of rivers and the thinness 
of inhabitants distract and disperse a trade. So that all 
ships in general gather each their loading up and down an 
hundred miles distant ; and the best of trade that can be 
driven is only a sort of Scotch peddling ; for they must 
carry all sorts of truck that trade thither having one com- 
modity to pass off another.'* * 

The orders sent by the planters to their agents in Eng- 
land were many and various. The letters of William 
Fitzhugh and William Byrd afford many examples. We 
find the former writing for a new feather bed with curtains 
and valance and an old one as well, since he had heard 
that the new ones were often full of dust. In July, 1687, 
he writes to his brother-in-law in London : 

" Please to mind the things sent for by you, as also 
add a large looking-glass with an olive wood frame and a 
pewter cistern." Again, in August, he writes to his 
brother : 

" I heartily thank your mindfull care and your Lady's 
great kindness in those welcome glasses which came well 
and safe to hand.'* 

William Fitzhugh, under date of April 22, 1686, de- 
scribes his estate in the following letter : 

* Clayton's Virgitiia (1688). 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

" Doctr. Ralph Smith : In order to the Exchange you 
promised to make for me and I desire you to proceed 
therein to say to the Exchange an Estate of Inheri- 
tance in land there of two or three hundred pound a 
year, or in houses in any town of three or four hundred 
pound a year, I shall be something particular in the relation 
of my concerns here that is to go in return thereof. At 
first the Plantation where I now live contains a thousand 
acres, at least 700 acres of it being rich thicket, the re- 
mainder good, hearty plantable land, without any waste 
either by marshes or great swamps the commodiousness, 
conveniency and pleasantness yourself well knows, upon 
it there is three-quarters well furnished with all ne- 
cessary houses; grounds and fencing, together with a 
choice crew of negro's at each plantation, most of them 
this country born, the remainder as likely as most in 
Virginia, there being twenty-nine in all, with stocks of 
cattle and hogs at each quarter, upon the same land is 
my own Dwelling house furnished*with all accommoda- 
tions for a comfortable and gentile living, as a very good 
dwelling house with rooms in it, four of the best of them 
hung and nine of them plentifully furnished with all things 
necessary and convenient, and all houses for use furnished 
with brick chimneys, four good Cellars, a Dairy, Dovecot, 
Stable, Barn, Henhouse, Kitchen, and all other conveni- 
encys and all in a manner new, a large Orchard of about 
2,500 Aple trees most grafted, well fenced with a Locust 
fence, which is as durable as most brick walls, a Garden, a 
hundred foot square, well pailed in, a Ycard wherein is 
most of the foresaid necessary houses, pallizado'd in with 
locust Puncheons, which is as good as if it were walled in 
and more lasting than any of our bricks, together with a 

31 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

good stock of Cattle, hogs, horses, mares, sheep, etc., and 
necessary servants belonging to it, for the supply and sup- 
port thereof. About a mile and half distance a good 
water Grist miln, whose tole I find sufficient to find my 
own family with wheat and Indian corn, for our necessitys 
and occasions up the River in this country three tracts of 
land more, one of them contains 21,996 acres, another 500 
acres, and one other 1,000 acres, all good, convenient and 
commodious Seats, and w*^** in a few years will yield a con- 
siderable annual Income. A stock of Tob° with the crops 
and good debts lying out of about 250,000 lb. beside suffi- 
cient of almost all sorts of goods, to supply the familys and 
the Quarter's occasion for two if not three years." 
On June 28, 1684, he sends the following order: 

" Mr. John Cooper: I have occasion for two pair of small And- 
irons for Chamber Chimneys, one pair of brass ones with fire shovel 
and tongs, and one pair of iron ones well glazed ; with fire shovel, 
and tongs, also two indifferent large Iron backs for Chimneys w'^'' I 
would have you send me by the first ships. Yo'r Wff." 

In 1698, he orders a table, a case of drawers, a looking- 
glass and two leather carpets. In 1688, he writes: 

" I have in my two former given you an account of 
money sent to Mr. Cooper with relation to laying out the 
same which now upon second thought I wholly design for 
an additional supply for now my building finished, my 
plantations well settled and largely stocked with slaves, 
having added about five more than when I gave you an 
account thereof and purchased at least three plantations 
more than is there mentioned and being sufficiently stored 
with goods of all sorts I esteem it as well politic as reput- 
able to furnish myself with an handsome cupboard of plate 
which gives myself the present use and credit, is a sure 

3a 




CO 



o '^ 

< ^ 




t/3 -a 







BEDSTEAD WITH TESTER AND HANGINGS 

The ivooJivork of about 1620-J0 ; the upholstery probably fifty years later. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

friend at a dead lift without much loss, or is a certain por- 
tion for a child after my dicease, and therefore last year I 
had a small quantity from you and about a like quantity 
from Bristol and did expect some from Plymouth but that 
miscarried." 

He wants it strong and plain as being less subject to 
bruise. 

Colonel William Byrd settled at H^estover on the 
James River, and while his house was in course of con- 
struction in 1685 he wrote to England for a bedstead, bed 
and hangings, a looking-glass, a small and medium-sized 
oval table and twelve Russia leather chairs. 

Colonel Fitzhugh writes an interesting letter in January, 
1687, to the Hon. Nicholas Spencer. It gives his views 
on the question of housebuilding and will bear quoting. 

** My experience in concerns of this country, especially 
in building and settling plantations, prompts me to offer 
my advice, having had sufficient trial in those affairs at the 
expense of almost 300,000 pounds of Tob**. I shall pro- 
pose no other than what I would follow myself, that is if 
you design this land to settle, a child of your own or near 
kinsman, for whom it is supposed you would build a very 
good house, not only for their comfortable but their credit- 
able accommodations; the best methods to be pursued 
therein is to get a carpenter and Bricklayer servants, and send 
them in here to serve 4 or five years, in which tiirte of 
their service they might reasonably build a substantial good 
house at least, if not brick walls and well plaster 'd, & earn 
money enough besides, in their said time, at spare times 
from your work, having so long a time to do it in, as 
would purchase plank nails and other materials, and supply 
them nccessarys during their servitude, or if you design to 

33 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

settle tenants on it, as your letter purports, in my opinion 
its needless for you to be at the charge of building for 
their accommodation, if you intend any time, if it is but 
seven years, for there's several that may be found that for a 
seven years' Lease, will build themselves a convenient dwell- 
ing, & other necessary houses, and be obliged at the expi- 
ration of their time to leave all in good repair, but if you 
at your own charge should build an ordinary Virginia house 
it will be some charge and no profit. . . But should not ad- 
vise to build either a great or English framed house, for la- 
bour is so intolerably dear & workmen so idle, and negli- 
gent that the building of a good house to you there will 
seem insupportable, for this 1 can assure you when I built 
my own house and agreed as cheap as I could with work- 
men & as carefully and as diligently took care that they 
followed their work, notwithstanding we have timber for 
nothing, but felling and getting in place, the frame of my 
house stood me in more money in Tob° @' 8 sh.p.Cwt. 
than a frame of the same dimensions would cost in London 
by a third at least." 

A good example of the household furniture in York 
County in the middle of the seventeenth century is that of 
Captain Stephen Gill, August 2, 1653, whose estate was 
appraised by Mr. F. Hy. Lee et al at 33,559 pounds to- 
bacco, including; seven servants valued at 3,760 pounds. 

In the Hall there was a feather bed and bolster, 
dock do, blanket, bedstead, pair of striped curtains 
and valance ; two couches with flock beds, four fea- 
ther pillows and two coverlets ; a hammock ; a 
table and "carpet," two "chaises," two stools covered 
with striped stuff, and five cushions ; a small side 
table and striped carpet, a small pewter cistern and 
bason, and a bason stoole; a " livery cubbard " with 

34 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

glasses and earthenware upon it, a close stool and 
pan, an ebony looking-glass ; bellows, snuffers, 
dogs, table, fire shovel, tongs, small dark lantern and 
chafing-dish, a drum and sticks, a parcell of old pic- 
tures, an old target ; firearms; steelyards and a "par- 
cell of old books"; two small chests, a trunk and a 
little box ; an old " Phisick chest with druggs in," etc. 
and a " small box with Phisick "; two old plaister 
boxes, one old "salvatorie," some instruments, a razor, 
six lancets, two pairs of scissors and three tobacco 
tongs ; two swords and a leather belt ; a sack, a 
drum and some silver; 14 doz. gold and silver 
breast buttons, 3 doz. silk points, a parcel of silk 
breast buttons, a parcel of colored silk, a parcel of 
ribbon, a pair of gloves and three brushes. 

In the Chamber we find an old bedstead with 
" vallance " curtains, feather bed, blanket, rug and 
pillows; a bedstead with fringed "vallance," flock bed, 
bolster and rug ; one " old hamock " and one "ham- 
acka"; two chests, a trunk, box and desk, all old; 
one old melted still, fire-irons and dogs; and a great 
deal of linen consisting of bed linen, table cloths, 
and napkins, as well as underclothing. In the 
" Inner Chamber" there were two bedsteads, feather 
beds, curtains and " vallence," an old table, an old 
chest, a new trunk, a joint stool, a table basket and 
clothing. I n the " Shedd " there was a small " runlett 
honey," a small " runlett treele, three bushell wheat, 
4'" hops, 16"* soap, 100"' Butter, 6 old Cases, i old 
low stoole, 1 old dripping pan, 1 old Tinn Cove' 
Dish, 24 Trenche", and 3 old Calk. 

In the " Loaft," we find Wheat, salt, meal, can- 
vas, nails, scythes, axes, hoes, reaping hoops, pot- 
hooks, hinges & Casks amtgto 0120 tob. 

In the " Kitching," i Copper Kettle, i old brass 
Kettle, I brass pott, 3 brass Candlesticks^ i brass 

3S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Skillitt, I small brass Morter & Pestle, i brass 
Skime', i brass Spoone, 3 ^Id Iron Potts, i small 
Iron Pott, 3 Pestles, 1 ffrying Pann, 2 Spitts, 2 pre 
of Potthangers, 3 pre pothookes, and i Iron Ladle, 
fflesh hooke, 3 Tinn Cullende", 46"' Pewter att 3** 
per I lb. (0700 tob.), 4 Old Porringers, 19 Pewter 
Spoons, 3 old I new Chambe' Potts, Pewte', 4 old 
Pewte' Tankards, i fflaggon, 2 Salt selle", 6 Tinn 
Candlesticks, 2 doz. old Trenchers, and 2 Sifte". 

In the " Milk House" there are 24 Trayes and 
one Cheesepress, 300 stores, boat, sail, live stock, pil- 
lion harness, and i old rugg, 30 lb. The seven serv- 
ants are valued at 3760 lbs., and his personalty 
amounts to 33,559 lbs. 

The varied contents of the three rooms are typical of 
all the houses of the period, though it seems strange to find 
accommodations to sleep three people in the hall. The 
general hospitality of the community accounts for this and 
it is usual to find beds in every room until the end of the 
century. 

The livery cupboard that stood in this hall was some- 
what similar to the court cupboard already described on 
page 22. It consisted of three shelves, or stages, standing 
on four turned legs. The livery cupboard seems to have 
had a drawer for the table linen but no doors, as we learn 
from a MS. in the British Museum giving the charges 
for the work of a joiner in the early days of Henry VIII's 
reign : 

"Ye cobards they be made ye facyon of livery y is 
w^out doors." 

The mugs and cups were hung on hooks and a ewer 
and basin stood below the shelves. 

The livery cupboard was for service or delivery, if we 

36 







W iil l bj »< U W W M il 





OAKEN CUPBOARD 

Carved oak ; the loiver part contains tivo Jratcerj and is surmounted by a cupboard luitk 
receding sides, ivhich supports the flat top, also partly resting on tivo spiral columns. On 
the cupboard door is carved the portrait of a lady ivearing a ruff and lace collar, 
the cabinet is further decorated ivith narroiv bands inlaid ivitb small si/uaret 
of ivood, alternately light and dark. Between the draivers is an inlaid 
tulip. 'The ivhole is supported on four short baluster tegs nvith cross- 
bars of the same design. English, dated **/1. D. /6oj." HeigAt, 
4fi. ayi in. J lengthy jft. Jo% in. j depth, /J), gy^ in. 



t 




ARMCHAIR 

Of about j6jo. H'ith upholstery either of the same date or renenued in the original style. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

may believe the etymologists, and Comenius in Janua 
(1659): "Various drinking-vessels are brought forth out 
of the cupboards and glass case and being rubbed with a 
pot brush, are set on the livery cupboard." 

The " livery-cupboard," ** court-cupboard," " standing- 
cupboard" and "press" were all very similar in character. 
We will take a few examples from the inventories 
with their prices : ** one old half-headed cupboard 
(Edward Keene, 1646); one old court-cupboard, 100 lbs. 
(Captain E. Roe, 1676); one cubboard and a cort, 150 
lbs. (G. A. Marshall, 1675); a great cupboard, iioo lbs. 
(Captain J. Carr, 1676); an old cupboard, 200 lbs. (Cap- 
tain T. Howell, 1 676) ; a cupboard with cloth and cushion, 
500 lbs., a side cupboard cloth and cushion, 250 lbs. 
(Nicholas Wyatt, 1676); a court cupboard, 290 lbs. (G. 
F. Beckwith, 1676); a standing-cupboard (Colonel William 
Farrer, 1678); an old cupboard, 15 lbs. (Captain James 
Crews, 1681); one side cupboard (Will Sargent, 1683); 
an old press, 80 lbs. (Richard Worneck, 1684); a *pinc 
press,' 150 lbs. (John Milner, 1684) ; a *cubbert,' 10 shil- 
lings (M. Bacon, 1694); a cubbert, 10 shillings (N. Bacon, 
1694); a cubbert, 6 shillings (H. Watkins, 1700)." 

It is very evident on looking at the prices that these 
articles of furniture varied greatly in size and ornamenta- 
tion. Some of them were undoubtedly richly carved as 
in the specimens existing in the museums abroad, although 
the inventories are the only evidence we have been able to 
find of their existence in the South. Captain Carr's cup- 
board, being valued at nearly $250 in present money, must 
have been very ornate. In estimating the value of tobacco 
we are in difficulties, because it varied greatly from 
year to year. In 1638 tobacco is declared to be worth 

37 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

three pence per pound; in 1639, as we have seen 
(see page 9), it is valued at ^^3— 19— 12 per hundred 
pounds, or three and one-half times as much. In 
1640, when an inventory was taken of the estate of 
Henry Crav/lie (Isle of Kent), "the praysers in their 
consciences think tobacco is worth per pound" two 
pence. The average price of tobacco during the second 
half of the seventeenth century is taken at about two pence 
per pound, and the value of money was about five times 
what it is now. It may not be amiss here to give some 
idea of the wealth of the individual planters, which in 
many cases certainly justified sumptuous household goods. 
It must also be remembered that the various rooms had 
not acquired the special character that they now possess. 
It was a long time even in England before parlour and 
dining-room were distinct apartments. In early days it 
was customary for the lords and ladies to eat in the large 
hall before the household, but gradually it became a habit 
to screen off a portion of the hall for privacy. Thence it 
was but a step to the private dining-room. This was re- 
ceived at first with disfavour ; we read in Piers Plowman 
(fourteenth century) : 

' In the Halle 
the lord ne the Ladye lyketh not to sytte ; 
rtow hath eche syche a rule to eaten by himself e 
in a privee parlour.** 

In 1526 the ordinances of Eltham remark with some 
asperity that " sundrie noblemen and gentlemen and others 
doe much delighte to dyne in corners and secrete places." 

The dining-room was not the one familiar to us. It 
opened from the hall and contained not only tables and 
cupboards but a bed, chairs and carpets. One of these new 

38 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




"parlours" in the reign of Mary 
and Philip contained "a jointed 
bedstead " covered with a counter- 
point of ** emegrie work with iij 
cortayns of greene and red serge, 
one counter and ij olde coverings 
for the same, ij long damask sylke 
chussings, v sylke chussengs, one 
dozen old chusshings, one table, 
one joned forme with a counter- 
point to the table and ij trussels, 
iiij thrown chayres and vij joned 
stools, one great payre of andyrons, 
one payre of tongs, one fyre shovel 
and a pare of bellows, and one 
Flanders' chest." 

The "thrown" chairs are said 
to be chairs " with frames of turn- 
ery work"; the "joint stool" was usually three-legged. 
The chair shown here is one of the earliest forms immedi- 
ately succeeding the carved oak period. 

A "dining-parlour" is mentioned in 1579 as a separate 
room, but even this contained a bed; and a "dining cham- 
ber" occurs in 1639. Parlour is defined in Minshew's 
Guide Unto Tongues (1617) as "an inner room to dine or 
suppe in," and the first mention of dining-room is found 
in The Knight of the Burning Pestle^ Merrythought saying : 

" I never come into my dining-room but at eleven and six 
o'clock — I found excellent meat and drink i* th* table." 

It will, therefore, be appreciated that the dining-room 
had not separated itself from the bed-chamber and parlour 
at this period in England, and, consequently, we shall find 

39 



WALNUT CHAIR 

Brlongrd to Sir Wiltum Guoch, Gov- 
ernor of Virginia I 727-1747. From the 
original in the possession of the Virginia 
Historical Society, Richmond. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

all these rooms uncertain as to character in Virginia for 
many years. The parlour bed-chamber still survives in 
many old Southern homes, i. e., the chamber situated near 
the parlour. 

The "parlour," literally the place where people could 
parley in privacy, became the ** withdrawing-room," used 
for conversation, as the dining-room was used for feasting. 
Among the free artisan and labouring classes and poorer 
planters, the furniture is still excessively meagre. Some in- 
ventories show none at all, the utmost being an old couch, 
a bed, two or three old chairs and a chest or trunk. 

The inventory of Mr. Gyles Mode, of York County, 
Va., is worth reproducing because the articles are valued in 
pounds, shillings and pence, instead of tobacco as is cus- 
tomary, and this is more satisfactory, as the latter commo- 
dity was not constant in value. 

£. s. d. 
I Father bed & feather bolster, very old bed- 
tick, I old green rug & blanket, i bedstead, 
a piece of serge, green curtains & vallance, . 8-5-0 
6 Leathern chairs, old, 4 high, 2 low, . i-io-o 

I Court Cupboard with drawers, . . . 5-0-0 
I Table, abt 7 ft, a form & green cotton carpet, 1-5-0 
I Small square table & a wicker graining chair 
& carpet, ....... 0-15-0 

I Warming pan & tin scolloped candlestick, . 0-6—0 
I Pair of low dogs with brass tops, one broken 
I Old couch with old flock bolster & green 
rug, ........ o-io-o 

I Chest with lock & key, . . . 0—12-0 

I Looking-glass with black frame, . . 0-12-0 

With the exception of the bedstead, bedding and hang- 
ings, the court cupboard with drawers is Mr. Mode's most 
valuable possession ; in fact, it is worth all his other wooden 




ARMCHAIR 

Oak, with high back carved with floral ornament and "/. P. 1670,** jcroU arms, and 

turned legs and crossbars. English. Height, 4 ft. 5 in.; widtk^ 2 ft. 3 in. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

furniture put together, representing at least ^125 in pres- 
ent money. It was undoubtedly a decorative as well as 
useful feature of his home; and we must credit him with 
distinct aesthetic preferences, since his rugs and table ** car- 
pets" were all green in hue. This taste was also shared 
by Colonel Thomas Ludlow, showing that green was fash- 
ionable in upholstery in the middle of the seventeenth 
century. 

The estate of Francis Wheeler is also given in money 
(January 30, 1659). Among other things "in the cham- 
ber" we find **a Virginia-made bedstead and an old-fash- 
ioned guilt Canne," the latter valued at j^j-io-o Thomas 
Bucke, January, 1659, in addition to beds and other house- 
hold stuff, left behind him "a striped tablecloth 2sh, 6d, a 
hide couch 8sh, a wainscot couch 1 5sh, three wainscot 
chairs ^^i-o-o, four lined-back chairs ^2-0-0, one frame 
table and form and two joint stools and a little one ;f 1-5-0." 

At an auction of the estate of John Marsh, September 
16, 1659, Jeremiah Rawlins bought **a powdering tubb"; 
and another lot consisted of ** one small hanging table and 
a form to hang, one couch, two pails and trays." The in- 
ventory of Stephen Page's goods, December, 1659, in- 
cludes "one chafing-dish and one skynn couch," besides 
the usual bed. 

According to the inventory of the estate of Colonel 
Thomas Ludlow, January i , 1 660, his house contained " the 
Inner Rooms," " Lt. Coll. Ludlowes chamber," " the Hall," 
"the Buttery," "the loft," "the Kitchen," "the Stoare" 
and the " Milke House." The hall seems to have been 
furnished best, and, unlike so many houses of the day, con- 
tained no bed. In it was one long table and green cloth 
carpet, a chest, one green couch, two leather chairs, three 

4» 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




I7TH CENTURY CROMWELL CHAIR 

Sec page 45. 



low chairs, one low stool 
and four high chairs 
with green cloth, a joint 
stool and short table, ten 
cushions, one pair and- 
irons, fire shovel and 
tongs, a tin candlestick, 
snuffers and a brush. 

The bed during the 
second half of this cen- 
tury still maintained its 
importance. We have 
many records of the 
varied material with 
which it was decorated. 
The curtains hung from 
rods by hooks, as is expressly mentioned in the inventory 
of Colonel Epes, 1678 (see page 52). They seem 
always to have been accompanied by a valance. To take 
a few examples from the inventories, the curtains are 
"striped" (S. Gill, 1653), "red perpetuana" (E. Keene, 
1646), "green" (F. Mathews, 1676), "serge with silk 
fringe" (R. Macklin, 1676), " camlet curtains and double 
valance lined with yellow silk" and fringed curtain (Colonel 
Epes, 1678); and " Kitterminster" (W. Sargent, 1683). 
Printed calico was also common. It must be remembered 
that the wooden walls were rarely air-tight, and, in winter, 
bed-curtains were a necessary protection against the strong 
draughts. 

The will of Richard Lee, dated 1663, shows the value 
that was still attached to beds. 

" Item. My will and earnest desire is that my house- 

4» 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



hold stuff at Stratford be di- 
vided into three parts, two of 
which I give to my son John 
and bind him to give to every 
one of his brothers a bed, and 
the other part I give to my 
wife, Anna Lee. 

** Item. I give 
and bequeath unto 
my eldest son John 
three islands lying 
in the Bay of Ches- 
apeake, the great 
new bed that I 
brought over in the 
Duke of York, and 
the furniture there- 
to belonging." 

This Colonel 
Lee, who dwelt at 
Mt. P leasanty 
West moreland 
County, was one of the wealthiest of the early planters 
of Virginia. His tobacco crop was worth ^10,000 
a year present value and his estate at Stratford-Langton, in 
England, $4,000 a year more. He died in 1714. 

That he was choice in his household goods is evident 
from the Saintsbury Calendar of State Papers, 1660 : "The 
petition in behalf of Colonel Richard Lee, of Virginia, to 
the Lord Protector and Council. Certain plate brought 
from Virginia to London by Colonel Lee, about a year and 
a half ago, to change the fashion, has been seized on his 

43 




AN OAK CHAIR OF 1 649 

The stutTed scat is covered with maroon leather over which is a 
piece of canvas worked with colored wools in the manner of a 
carpet. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

return to Virginia, by the searchers at Gravesend ; every 
piece having the Colonel's coat of arms, and being for his 
own private use, who did not know but that plate manu- 
factured might be transported to English plantations." 

The Colonel's affidavit stated that his trunk had con- 
tained 200 ounces of silver plate, all marked with his coat 
of arms and intended for his own use, and that it had been 
seized at Gravesend aboard the ship Anthony of London, 
and that most of it had been in his possession for many 
years in Virginia. 

After the execution of Charles I, Colonel Norwood, 
with other Royalists, took ship for the colony ; and he has 
left a vivid description of his terrible voyage. He and 
others were deserted on an island and finally reached 
Jamestown by the aid of friendly Indians. In the first 
frontier house he came to, ** a large bed of sweet straw was 
spread ready for our reception." This was in Northamp- 
ton County, and the furniture must have been almost nil. 
The proverbial lavish hospitality of the Virginians was al- 
ready noticeable, for we read : "As we advanced into the 
plantations that lay thicker together we had our choice of 
hosts for our entertainment, without money or its value; 
in which we did not begin any novelty, for there are no 
inns in the colony, nor do they take other payment for 
what they furnish to coasters, but by requital of such cour- 
tesies the same way as occasions offer." 

We have now reached a date, therefore, when the bet- 
ter houses were furnished with considerable comfort and 
variety. Luxury was advancing. The tables no longer 
consisted merely of boards and trestles ; and the forms and 
benches were fast disappearing in favour of quite a variety 
of chairs. The seats and sometimes the backs of the latter 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



were comfortably stuffed, and they were heavy and substan- 
tial rather than elegant in design. The woods of which 
they were made are seldom mentioned in the inventories. 
We shall have to wait some years yet, till the influence of 
the French Renaissance, now beginning, is felt, before Eng- 
land and her colonies 
care for art in furni- 
ture. First, in order 
of time, came the 
leather chair, high 
and low, as we have 
already seen, and we 
may mention here that 
the brown leather- 
covered and brass- 
nailed chairs, still 
known as the "Crom- 
well chairs," were im- 
ported into England , .^ t>p« p«>^""« 'o oerby- 

r _ ,, , , *'"'•■' k"gl->nd, — sec the ac- This type of chair i* pecu- 

from Holland. Then companymg illustration, seven- liar to Yorkshire and Derby- 

teenth century. From the on- ghirc. England. From the 

came the Turkey- gmal •" the Victona and Albert original in the Victoria and 

^ Museum. Albert Museum. 

work chair which was 

much in vogue till the end of the century. It probably 
got its name from the rugs imported from the Levant, for 
its cover was embroidered with designs in bright colours. 
The "rush" and wood-bottomed chairs were the common- 
est kinds; in 1684 two of the former were valued at two 
pounds of tobacco. In 1676 "ten wood-bottom chairs" 
were appraised at fifteen pence each. There were not so 
many kinds of single chairs in the seventeenth century as 
there were of armchairs. There were two very favourite 
oak patterns, the Derbyshire and the Yorkshire. The 

4S 




OAKEN CHAIR 



I 7TH CENTURY CHAIR 
OF OAK. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

former belongs to the time of James I. Its hori- 
zontal pieces are tenoned into the uprights and fastened 
with oak pegs. Between the rails three arches with 
neatly turned spindles are introduced. The chair is 
exceedingly firm and solid. The Yorkshire model, of 
which great numbers were produced, is rather more or- 
namental. Besides, the usual uprights, the back has two 
rails, an arch with ornamental scroll-work, and small 
turned "droppers." Here we also find the bell-shaped 
flower, or columbine, destined to appear in future years, 
both in carving and inlay. 

Some attention was given to ornamenting the chimney 
piece. W. Sargent in 1683 had a "chimney-cloth." 

The inventories give evidence of barter with the Indians. 
Indian baskets, matting, etc., are not uncommon. 

Theinventory of the estate of Colonel John Carter, 1670, 
included table and bed linen, curtains, a number of beds and 
bedstead, kitchen utensils, fifteen " turkie work chairs," 
twenty-one old leather-chairs, eight Turkey-work cushions 
and two old cushions, six Spanish tables, two looking- 
glasses, two chests of drawers and some silver plate, besides 
live stock, amounting in all to ^2250-10-6. 

Thirty-six chairs would be enough for a moderate house 
at the present day, so Colonel Carter was respectably supplied. 
The three-legged joint-stool was also universally used side 
by side with the chairs. Captain Thomas Howell of Mary- 
land, March 14, 1676, owned ten joint-stools, two wooden 
chairs, six small chairs, eighteen leather chairs, six Turkey- 
work chairs and one wicker chair. 

The prices in tobacco were as follows: six leather 
chairs, 120 lbs. (R. Macklin, 1676); 2 joint stools, 80 lbs., 
3 leather chairs, i wooden chair and 2 cushions, 1 20 lbs., 

46 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

(G. A. Marshall, 1675); one great wicker chair, 40 lbs., 
(Edw. Keene, 1646); 12 leather chairs, 480 lbs., 12 
Turkey-work do, 960 lbs., 2 old wooden do, 30 lbs., 7 
small wooden do, 84 lbs. (Captain Edw. Roe, 1676). Thus 
we see that the prices varied greatly. The wicker chair 
was generally accompanied by a cushion, though the latter 
is not always mentioned in the inventories. In addition to 
the above kinds, there was the "straw " chair, and the chair 
with a seat of woven "flag," In 1694, we hnd two straw- 
bottomed chairs valued at one shilling and sixpence; and, 
in the same year, Michael Swift's ** nine old flag and 
wooden chairs" were appraised at eighteen shillings. The 
most fashionable chair, however, was the Russia leather 
chair, it occurs in all the best houses towards the close of 
the seventeenth century. Colonel Francis Epes, of Henrico 
County, October i, 1678, had 24 Russia leather high chairs, 
j^8-2-o. He also possessed " i 2 Turkey work chairs, ten 
pf which are new at jf 4-5-0, two broken, i sh., 9 Camlett 
[camel's-hairj chairs, 7 of them new at 7 shillings per 
chair and 2 broken i shilling, ^'2-10-0; and one Ellboe 
chair damnifyed though new, 7 shillings." Besides the 
above, there were the "calfskin," the "rush," the "cane," 
the "bass," the "black", and the matted chair. Thus 
Thomas Shippery of Henrico County (1684) owned " one 
joyner's (arm'd) chair " valued at thirty pounds tobacco and 
"two rush (green) chairs, 20 lbs." Henry Watkins (1700) 
had six bass chairs, value twelve shillings. Col. Jno. Carr of 
Maryland in 1676 had six turned Dutch chairs, 360 lbs. 
Thomas Bucke (1659) owned four lined back chairs, £^i, 
and three wainscot chairs, ^^i. Chairs were very numerous 
in the well-to-do houses. In 1694 N. Bacon was not 
unusually well supplied with his thirty-six. The accom- 

47 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

panying illustration affords a clear view of the cane chairs 
of the period. 

The chair on page 49 is of walnut. It has a high hack 
with a long panel rounded at each end and filled in with 
cane wehhing with a carved and pierced pedimental top. 
The two turned pillars on either side of the panel are con- 
tinuations of the hack legs. The front legs terminate in 
moulded feet turned outwards. They, as well as the strain- 
ing rails, are turned. The date of the chair is about 1 690. 
The seat is plain and filled in with cane webbing. On 
page 6 another example of the high-backed cane chair is 
found. The wood is painted. The top rail of the back 
is carved and pierced and below it is a panel similar to that 
last described also filled in with cane webbing. The 
side supports are also continuations of the back legs. The 
square frame of the seat is filled in with cane; the front 
legs are carved with projecting knees and feet turned out- 
wards. They are joined by a carved and pierced rail with 
a design similar to that in the top of the back, which is of 
scrolls and foliage. The second chair on page 49 is also 
painted, with a high back and top rail pierced and carved. 
The central panel of the back is filled in with cane web- 
bing and its frame is carved and incised, as is the broad 
rail joining the two front legs. The decoration is of floral 
scrolls and the legs and straining rails and side supports of 
the back are spirally turned. The pine cone surmounts 
these side pillars and a large shell holds the central posi- 
tion in the top rail. The date of this chair is about 1660. 
It is a good example of the general carving of the day. 
The shell is of great antiquity in ornamentation. 

We also give examples of two other chairs of the same 
period. The armchair is exactly similar in form to those 

4S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




I7TH CENTURY CHAIR 

Walnut ; high back, with a 
long panel rounded at each end and 
filled in with cane webbing, sur- 
mounted by a pedimental piece 
carved and pierced, supported by 
two turned pillars continuous with 
the cane webbing. The seat is a 
plain frame AUed in with cane web- 
bing. The front legs and straining 
rails arc turned. Lent by C. H. 
Talbot, £«)., Lacock Abbey. 




I7TH CENTURY CHAIR 

Painted ; high back with 
carved and pierced top rail. 
Back framing and lower rail 
carved and incised, the central 
panel of the back and seat tilled 
in with cane webbing. The legs 
and two straining rails are spirally 
turned. Carved and incised fnint 
rail. About 1660. Lent by W. 
H. Evans, £«]., Fordc Abbey. 



already described. The legs are simply turned, the seat is 
of woven cane and the only difference is in the carving of 
the back and of the front rail, which is very ornate. It is 
of a beautiful black walnut. The other high-backed chair, 
said to be Spanish, precisely follows the form altogether of 
the other examples given. The back and seat are covered 
with stamped Spanish leather of a tawny colour, fastened 
with big brass studs. The ornamentation of the front rail 
consists simply of two carved interlacing scrolls. The 

49 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




HIGH-BACKED CHAIR 

Covered with stamped Spanish leather 
of a tawny colour fastened with brass studs. 
The front rail consists of two interlacing 
scrolls. From original in the Memorial 
Hall, Philadelphia. See page 49. 




I7TH CENTURY ARMCHAIR OF CARVEI 
BLACK WALNUT 

The legs are turned, the scat is of woven cane. Th( 
back and the front rail are highly carved. Set 
page 49. 



high-backed Russia leather chairs so numerous in the in- 
ventories, are clearly represented in this specimen. The 
low-backed leather chair, which also had a leather seat, 
was square and squat in shape and is also shown in an ac- 
companying illustration in a specirnen belonging to Dr. 
Christopher Witt, a German pietist and astrologer, known 
as the "Hermit of the Wissahickon," who died in 1708. 
The frame was very often quite plain with square legs 

50 










'SI 



Q 
< 









^5 



06 ^ 



'^ 




CABINET OF OAK 

The outer doors are veneered on the face zc-ith hexagonal pieces of " Thorn Acacia" wood. 

The dratvers within, eleven in number, are veneered with walnut with an 

edging of sycamore. Close of the seventeenth century. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



and arms, as is shown 
m so many illustrations 
of seventeenth century 
life. Dr. Witt's chair 
is preserved in the 
American Philosophical 
Society in Philadelphia. 
The walnut chairs 
in the illustration on 
page 65 were import- 
ed from England by 
Ralph Wormeley of 
Rosegiliy Middlesex 

County, Va., towards 
the end of the seven- 
teenth century, and were 
used in his parlour. 

^ I 7TH' CENTURY CHAIR 

Eleanor Plater, who was original in the collection of the American Philoeophical 

r lyyf D 1 U Society. It is said to have been the chair of Dr. Christopher 

Sister or iVlrS. Ixalpn Witt, mystic astrologer and doctor, «« the Hermit of the 

Wi 1 '1 Wiscahkkon." 
ormeley, and married 

Governor Gooch, embroidered a seat for these chairs; there 
are six in the set, two being armchairs. When the first 
Ralph Wormeley died in 1703, his effects were sold 
and the chairs were bought by Mr. John Prosser of 
White Marshy GloucevSter County, Va., whose great-grand- 
daughter, Maud Tabb, married John Tayloe Perrin, a 
descendant of Ralph Wormeley. The chairs were given 
to Mrs. Perrin by her father. Dr. John Prosser Tabb. 
They are thus among the oldest authentic specimens of 
Virginia furniture. 

Ralph Wormeley of Rosegiil (i 650-1 703) owned so 
great an estate and possessed so much influence that Hart- 
s' 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



well, Blair and Chilton speak of him in The Present State 
of Virginia (1699) as "the greatest man in Virginia.'* 

" Kosegilly where the Wormeleys lived in English state, ' 
writes Bishop Meade in his Old Churches (1872), " was situ- 
ated high upon the banks of the Rappahannock River, a few 
miles from Old Christ Church. It was a large and hand- 
some specimen of an old colonial mansion." 

The inventory of the estate of Colonel Francis Epes, of 
Henrico County, Va,, October i, 1678, will show the 
growing luxury of the planters. 



One foure foot chest of drawers seder 
[cedar ?] y speckled new but damnified, 
I large chest of drawers new, . 
I small table damnified though new, 
I large folding-table* new but damn, 
1 sacking bottom bedsteads new, 
I twisted stand new & ye topp of another 
1 setts of curtaine rodds, 
I suite of tapestry hanging, 

1 large olive wood glasse, one large walnut 
tree glass 2 pr of screws, 

2 doz of Russia leather high chairs, . 
12 Turkey worke chairs, 10 of which new 

at ;^4- 5, two broken i, 

9 Camlett chaires 7 of them new at 7^^ 
pr chaire & 2 broken i;^, . 

One Ellboe chaire damnifyed though new. 

One large new feather bed with camlett 
curtains & double vallins lind with yel- 
low silke, bolster pillow, counterpane, 
Rodds & hooks tops & stands i Cur- 
taine and some ffringe damnifyed, 

1 yarn rugg & i blankett. 



i s. d. 
I-IO-O 

1-4-0 

5-0 
1-5-0 

2-10-0 

0-3-0 

5-6 
1 8-17-0 

4-14-0 
8-2-0 



2-10-0 
0-7-0 



24-5-0 
1-4-0 



* The folding-table was known in England as early as 1556. 

5a 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

£ s. d. 
I middle seize calve skinn truncke with 

drawers, ...... 0-12—0 

One sacke cloth bottome bedstead, . . 1-6-0 

One old fFeather bed and bolster, . . 2-10-0 

One small old ffeather bed and bolster 



not 



full, 



One ffeather bed, bolster & 2 pillows 

worne, ...... 

2 yarne ruggs worne ye largest 10* ye 

other 7*, 

One middle size calve skinn truncke with 

drawers, ...... 

One old leather truncke with locke and 

key, 

One old chest of drawers without keys, . 
One very old fFeather bed & bolster rugg 

& 2 blanketts & one old beddstead, 
One very old bedd bolster two course 

blanketts & an old trundle beddstead . 
One small old fFeather bed small bolster 

& I canvis bolster & a small rugg all 

very old, ...... 

One old suite of Callicoe curtaines and 

vallaines, ...... 

Eleven pds of plate at 3^^ p. pd is . 

An old standing cupboard and one small 

old table & one old broken chaire of 

wood, ...... 

2 new bedds & bollsters & 3 new pillows, 

2 New Ruggs, ..... 

3 new blanketts, ..... 
One small old bed of fFeathers one 

blankett, bolster i pr of canvis sheetes, 
one old Rugg one blacke leather truncke, 

One pairof bellowes new. 

One large chest with lock & key old, 

53 



1-0-0 

2-0-0 

17-0 

12-0 

3-4 
5-0 

I-IO-O 
I-O-O 

lO-O 

5-0 



2-0 
9-9-4 

I-O-O 

12-0 



6-0 

2-6 

7-<5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

£ s. d. 

One old middle size chest with lock & key, 3-6 

One small old chest with lock & key, . 3-0 
Two other old chests without keys & one 

without hinges, ..... lo-o 

One very old long table & one little ditto, 5-0 
One old coutch i leather chaire very old 

& lumber, ...... 3-0 

Three old beddsteads, .... 6-0 

One small hammock new & one old 

coverlidd, ...... 1 3-0 

Two cushions & one turkey workt carpet, 1-2-0 
One pr of new Curtaines & vallins 

(Kidderminster), .... 10-0 

One old Rugg yarne, .... 5-0 

One old bible & 6 other small old books, 5-0 
Two small writing trunckes with locks & 

keys & one small very old blacke 

truncke (calve skin), .... 4-0 
Two canes one of them broke with silver 

heads, ...... 7-0 

I small looking glasse .... i— o 

(Total /302-1-2) 

It will have been noticed that no matter how scanty 
was the furniture, it invariably included some receptacle 
for clothes, etc. The box, case, chest, and trunk are often 
found in the same inventory. It is difficult to distinguish 
between the case and box, but the chest was an article of 
some decorative importance. The oak, or cedar chest was 
more or less ornate in accordance with the wealth and 
taste of the owner. Sometimes it rested on its own flat base 
and sometimes on short legs. Frequently it had more than 
one lock and key, as was the case with the one sent to the 
Ashley River by the Earl of Shaftesbury mentioned later. 
Many old chests are heavily bound with iron. The simpler 

34 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




kinds would merely be 
carved with the initials 
of the owner and the 
date of constructions. 
Sometimes they had an 
appropriate motto or 
warning, such as "Come 
not in jest to open this 
chest." The lid of the 
finer specimens would 
often be inlaid with a fo- 
liage design and the front 
and sides would have 
carved panels represent- 
ing biblical scenes or my- 
thological personages, or 
simply CJothic tracery or 
floral scrolls. Some of 
the clothes chests at one 
end contained a small 
inner box with hinged lid for holding fans, laces and other 
feminine trifles. Drawers were soon inserted into the lower 
part of the chest and the next step was to cut the remain- 
ing part of the front into doors and put shelves inside. 
When towards the close of the century Colonel Fitzhugh 
sends to London for some silver plate, he stipulates that it 
shall be packed in chests, because of their great usefulness, 
though he evidently feels that he has to excuse his extrava- 
gance. These chests, therefore, must have been something 
more than mere packing-cases. He was ordering something 
that he could not cause to be made by his own workmen. 
The chc;:t with drawers occurs frequently in the inven- 
ts 



OAKEN CHEST OF DRAWERS 

Consisting of four long drawers, each of which is decor- 
ated in front with two panels of raised moulding. The 
escutcheon plates and drop handles are of brass. The whole 
rests on four spirally turned legs strengthened by plain bars. 
Late seventeenth century. Height, 4 ft. ^'4 in.; length, 
3 ft. 1 m.; width, i ft. 10 in. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tories early in the seventeenth century. A further de- 
velopment consisted in topping the drawers with a " bureau," 
which was used in its literal sense of " office." It was closed 
by a sloping flat to be used as a writing-table, with two 
sliding "draw-out" supports. This top usually contained 
pigeon-holes and drawers both visible and secret. The 
chest with drawers was quite an expensive article of furni- 
ture in Virginia in 1676. G. F. Beckwith owned one 
valued at about $70 present money. He also possessed a 
"chest with drawers," "a box with drawers," and " a desk 
with drawers," all worth about $80. Another instance is 
found the same year in Robert Macklin, whose parlour 
contained a great "elm chest," a deal ditto, a "trunk with 
drawers," a "Dutch case," a "little nest of drawers," and 
"two old trunks," valued in all at 400 pounds tobacco. In 
the same year Captain T. Marshall owned a " box of 
drawers," and Captain J. Carr a "chest of drawers," valued 
at 450 pounds tobacco. Chests of drawers were also pos- 
sessed by N. Bacon (1694) £1, and another at 14 shillings, 
and Henry Watkins (1700), £2. 

A desk of some kind was found in every respectable 
house. Examples are plentiful towards the end of the 
century. In 1684 the Rev. Thomas Perkins owned a desk 
and sealskin case, 250 pounds tobacco. Other instances 
are: an old desk, Mrs. Fauntleroy (1686); two desks, 250 
pounds tobacco. Captain J. Carr (1676) ; Thomas Howlett, 
one (1685), and N. Bacon another, at five shillings, in 
1694. Captain J. Goodwin may end the list with one in 
1701. 

Miss Mary Jones of Gloucester County, Va., owns an 
ancient desk belonging to the Fauntleroy family, which 
may be the very one recorded above. 

56 



CABINET OF WALNUT WOOD 

ff^tb tmfo cuphearJs and tivo Jraiuers^ above nx-bicb is a canopy supporteJ on four balusters j the 

tvbole is ormamemteJ ivilh carvings in relief of men on horseback, cherubs' heads ^ 

lions' masks, figures, and fruit. English^ tf-venteentb century. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Dressing-tables were to be found in considerable profu- 
sion. Examples still in existence, of the date of 1 690, are 
veneered with walnut as well as solid. Some of them had 
two deep side drawers and a shallower central one with 
brass key-plates and handles. Others were inlaid in a 
band around the top of the table and faces of the drawers 
with box-wood and ebony. Sometimes the legs were 
plain and sometimes they showed the growing Dutch in- 
fluence and were of the cabriole shape with web feet. A 
typical combination dressing-table, "scrutore," and swing- 
glass (circalated 1700) is of walnut with the glass bevelled 
and the frame slightly carved and gilt. The front has 
beading and moulding ornamentation and the supports are 
four cabriole legs with shell carvings. The looking-glass 
was sometimes fixed to the top of a case or chest of draw- 
ers. Captain James Archer (1607) owned "one chest of 
drawers, one dressing box, three looking-glasses, and one 
glass case," all valued at ^4—15—0. 

The first item of the inventory of Colonel Epes, given 
above, shows that the "chest of drawers" was often of 
considerable size. Two other items supply us with exam- 
ples of trunks containing drawers. The trunks were 
"leather," "calf-skin," "seal-skin," "gilt," and on at least 
one occasion we find an "oyster-shell trunk." Special im- 
portance was attached to locks and keys and their absence 
is usually noted. The metal-work was highly valued. 
Curtain-rods even, as in the above inventory, possessed a 
value by no means despicable, and it is noticeable that the 
absence of hinges is considered worth recording, and even 
the screws of the looking-glasses are not forgotten. 

Colonel Epes was one of many rich planters whose 
walls were hung with tapestry. Hangings worth nearly 

57 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

$500 in our money must have contributed considerable 
elegance to his rooms. The Turkey-work carpet men- 
tioned is probably nothing but a table-cloth, as in so many 
previous examples. The two cushions mentioned with it, 
all together valued at twenty-two shillings, were probably 
embroidered. Cushions were in great favour and were 
found in great profusion in the houses of the seventeenth 
century; the lines of the seats were somewhat rigid and the 
comfort of the sitter depended largely on cushions, espe- 
cially as in many cases the carving was not so disposed as 
to contribute to personal ease. It is to be noticed that the 
projecting carving in the backs of the chairs gradually dis- 
appears, or is subdued. The finer examples of cushions 
were Turkey-work, silk, satin, velvet, damask, and other 
materials that lent themselves to embroidery. Fine needle- 
work was a common female accomplishment during this 
century and special bequests of worked material are fre- 
quently found in the wills. 

As we have already seen, the mirror with olive-wood 
frame in Colonel Epes's inventory came from Italy ; the 
large "walnut-tree glasse " was, in all probability, a produc- 
tion of the Vauxhall factory recently established. 

We may take another example of this period in Nicho- 
las Wyatt of Maryland, whose inventory was sworn to 
September 25, 1676. His house consisted of a hall, par- 
lour, hall chamber, porch chamber, parlour chamber, 
kitchen, cellar, milkhouse, kitchen chamber, kitchen, but- 
tery, kitchen loft, and quarter. In the hall were seven 
framed pictures on the walls, and "a window-cloth" at 
the window. There was one oblong table and "carpet" 
and six joint stools: here the family took their meals. 
Along the walls and disposed in various places were sixteen 

58 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Turkey-work chairs, and seven leather chairs in addition. 
In the big fire-place were brass andirons, and beside them 
stood tongs, shovels and a pair of bellows. A couch-bed 
with its appurtenances stood in one corner of the big room, 
and a cabinet and small trunk in another. A chest of 
drawers with "cloth and cushion," a side cupboard (not 
fixed to the wall, but a separate piece of furniture) also 
with "cloth and cushion," containing "a parcel of books," 
"a beer glass" and "snuffers"; and a looking-glass and a 
round table completed the list. Entering the parlour we 
find a four-post bedstead with curtains and valance, and on 
it a comfortable feather-bed, bolster and pillows with a 
gaily coloured rug above all. There is also a couch with 
its bed and furnishings. Though the floor is bare there is 
a "window cloth" at the window, and six framed pictures 
adorn the walls. Against one wall stands a chest of draw- 
ers covered with a cloth. The looking-glass that is men- 
tioned probably stands on this, as does also a silver caudle 
cup. A cupboard "with cloth and cushion" contains 
three wine-glasses, a brush and a nest of hour-glasses. The 
room has no table, but is well supplied with chairs. There 
is one cushioned wicker chair and three straw, three wooden 
and four Turkey-work chairs. The fire-place is furnished 
with fire-irons and andirons, and a seal-skin trunk against 
the wall. 

In the "hall chamber" is another four-post bedstead 
with the usual bedding. It is furnished with a pair of 
serge curtains and valance. A trundle bed (that rolls under 
the big one) also has its bedding and furniture covered 
with a counterpane. A table with "carpet" and five 
leather chairs and a joint-stool help to make the room 
comfortable. There is an extra trundle bed and bedding 

59 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



covered with an embroidered rug. In the fire-place are the 
shovel, tongs and andirons. There is also a looking-glasj 
and, finally, two chests and a trunk, one of which contains 
five pairs of sheets. 

In the "porch chamber" is a "standing bedstead, bed 

and furniture with dar- 
nick curtains and val- 
ence." Four pictures 
relieve the bareness of 
these walls also. Last- 
ly, there is a table and 
"carpet," a joint-stool 
and four other stools, 
three of which have 
cushions. 

In the " parlour 
chamber " we find an- 
other " standing bed- 
stead, bed and furni- 
ture," and a couch 
with the same. Three 
more pictures are on 
the walls, and the 
room is supplied with 
a table with a cloth on it, a straw chair and a form. 
Here also is a chest and a box containing the household 
linen. The latter consists of one pair of " pillow- 
coats," seven pairs of sheets, two diaper table-cloths, 
five other table-cloths, twelve diaper napkins, and four 
dozen and four other napkins, fifteen pillow-coats, seven 
towels, three small table-cloths, and one old table-cloth. 
The accommodations for the servants are not so scanty 

60 




CABIN tl 

The upper part is a cupboard with two doors, inc 
shelves, and the lower part fitted with four drawers. It is of" 
oak, veneered with various woods, chiefly walnut, and has in 
several panels figure and floral ornament in pear wood inlaid in 
ebony. About 1670-I0. Height, 6 ft. 9 in.; width, 4 ft. 
6 in.; depth, 2iJ^ in. Bought £\r. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



as usual. In the "kitchen cham- 
ber" is one flock bed and furniture, 
one feather ditto, a looking-glass, 
a chest and some boxes. 

The cabinet mentioned in the 
above inventory was common to 
the homes of almost all well-to-do 
people. In mediaeval days it was 
almost as necessary to the rich as 
the chest was to the poor. In the 
seventeenth century nearly every 
man who had valuables of small bulk 
possessed one. Many early examples 
are very ornate. It was usually 
carved and often inlaid with ebony, 
ivory, and mother of pearl in various 
patterns. Oak inlaid with walnut 
frequently occurs. The ornamen- 
tation was very varied. Panelling 
was exceedingly common and 
cabinets decorated with turned half- 
rails were quite characteristic of 
the period. At the close of the 
century Dutch styles prevailed in 
England, as was only natural with 
a Dutch king on the throne and 
Dutch celebrities in English homes. 
The cabinets then have florid mar- 
quetry decoration of large natural 
tulips and other flowers. The con- 
tinental wood-work was working its 
way into favour before this, however, 

6i 




SECTION OF 
I7TH CENTURY CABINET 




CARVED OAK 

I7TH CENTURY CABINET 

Decoration* limiUr to the Engbih late 
Etiiabethan or Jacobean Kyle. Memith, 
about 1610. Height, 3 ft. 6 in., length, 4 
ft. I In ; width, 1 it. 8 in. Bought /'18. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and even before 1625 the carved fronts of cabinets executed 
in the Low Countries, where carving had reached such a 
high pitch of excellence, were sent down the canals, and 
shipped to the eastern ports of England. The backs and 
sides were added by village carpenters. The same system 
would undoubtedly prevail in the English colonies. 

Hitherto we have said nothing about tables, though the 
lists given will have afforded a clear idea of that article of 
furniture during the seventeenth century. Traces of the 
Tudor period still lingered in the styles, the constantly re- 
curring "Spanish table" is Elizabethan pure and simple ; in 
fact, many an inventory carries us directly back to the day 
when the poet wrote : 

*■*■ Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall^ 
See they be fitted all ; 
Let there be room to eat 
And order taken that there want no meat. 
See every sconce and candlestick made bright^ 
That without tapers they may give a light. 
Look to the presence : are the carpets spread^ 
The dais o'er the head^ 
The cushions in the chairs^ 
And all the candies lighted on the stairs ? 
Perfume the chambers and in any case 
Let each man give attendance in his place.^^* 

Another table that was found in the better class of 
house was the ** folding table." This was probably of 
Dutch origin. It varied in size, the smallest having twelve 
legs and the largest having twenty legs. These legs could 
be pulled out to support leaves and by this means the table 
could be enlarged to three times its ordinary size. The 



* Christ Church MS. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



'f'vnm 



§mmM!Mimk'm^. 




I7TH CENTURY OAK TABLE WITH EXTENDING TOP 
The frame is incised aitd carved ; the four baluster legs arc turned and carved. Heavy straining raila 
join the Ii^s near the ground. About 1610. Lent by the Governor of the Charterhouse. ^^230. 

turned legs were no thicker than was necessary. In 
the inventories the wood of which the tahles were com- 
posed is very rarely mentioned. When imported, they 
were of the oak which still lingered in English mansions. 
The native walnut, oak, cedar, pine, and cypress were 
largely used in the native-made tables. A curious kind 
greatly in favour in England during the period was the 
chair-table. The back of the chair turned on a hinge and 
formed a small table. In 1682 we find one valued at three 
shillings in the possession of Christopher Branch of Henrico 
County, Va.; another occurs among the possessions of 
Francis Moss in 1686. There was considerable variety in 
the shape of the seventeenth century table. The round 
and the oval are frequently mentioned. In 1673, Elizabeth 
Butler bequeaths an "oval" and a "drawing-table." 

A drawing-table is an extension table. I cannot do 
better than quote the explanation given by S. T. Robinson 
in the y/r/ 'Journal: "The end leaves were fixed upon 

6j 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

graduated bearers, and to prevent their upper surfaces from 
being scratched as they are drawn out a slight vertical 
movement is allowed to the centre part of the table which 
permits it to be lifted up till they are quite clear of it. 
The extent of the movement is regulated by the projecting 
heads of the two pins which fit closely into the immovable 
crosspiece. As soon as the leaf is drawn out, the free play 
given to these pins in the crosspiece permits the centre- 
piece to fall into its original position which it does by its 
own gravity. The leaves being now raised by the gradu- 
ated bearers to the required height, the upper surface of the 
table becomes level throughout. It is unnecessary to say 
that the adjustment of these slides is a matter of nice 
calculation, and that great ingenuity has been shown in 
bringing about so satisfactory a result . . . The whole 
mechanism is admirably considered for the purpose it has 
to fulfill. Indeed its adaptation for its purpose was so good 
that the principle was long retained ; and Sheraton, so late 
as the commencement of the present century, advocates its 
use for many writing or other tables, and gives the rule for 
finding the exact rake of the slides and the technical detail 
of all the other parts." 

In 1676 Thomas Skinner owned a " Dutch folding 
table," and twenty-five years later we find John Goodwin 
with another large one of the same kind valued at jC 2-0-0. 
He also owned a' small folding and a small cross-legged 
table. Stephen Gill, as early as 1653, had a "small side 
table," and in 1655 Robert Wilkinson possessed a "short 
leaf" table. The "falling" table also was by no means 
rare. Thomas Osborne had a "sideboard" table in 1696, 
and lastly we find a slate table valued at ^^i ; and a small 
table and drawer in the inventory of H. Watkins, 1700. 

64 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Card-tables as separate articles of furniture do not seem 
to have been in use until late in the century, when they 
were probably imported by Dutch ships. Cards, however, 
were a very favorite means of passing the hours of leisure, 
and gambling was probably as prevalent as drinking. In 




WALNUT CHAIRS 



Originally brionging to Ralph Wormeley of Virginia. Now owned by Mr«. John Tayioe Perrin, 
of BaltiiDorc. See page $i. 



William Fitzhugh's letters we find several references to deep 
potations and his own lack of prowess with the cup. Cards 
arc occasionally considered worth recording in the inven- 
tories. In 1 70 1 Richard Dunbar left behind him in a 
wicked world twenty-nine dozen packs of plaving cards, 
valued at j(' 1-9-0, and in the same year Alexander Young 

65 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

left twenty dozen "pack cards," appraised at ^i. These 
were probably kept for sale. 

Pictures existed in far greater numbers than is generally 
supposed, though their nature and subject are hardly ever 
specified during the seventeenth century. ** A parcel of 
pictures " is a common item in the inventories of the more 
prosperous class. 

Books were scarce and seem to have been appraised in 
accordance with their age. Half a dozen odd volumes was 
the utmost possessed by the average individual, and if these 
happened to be old, the value attributed was insignificant. 
Ralph Wormeley was an exception, as at his death, in 1701, 
he had more than 400 works in his library. Richard Lee 
was another. He possessed more than 300 books. The 
clergy and doctors sometimes had a considerable number of 
volumes dealing with their own professions ; but '* a parcel 
of old books" was sufficient description for the average 
library. Dr. John Willoughby, of Rappahannock County, 
had one of the respectable libraries, while of the clergy, 
Thomas Perkins (clerk) had only: 

lbs. tobacco 
A pcell of old parchmt & paper covered books, 050 
Another pcell of books, .... 258 

3 books at ...... 450 

One bible and common prayer book, . .124 

Another parcel of books, . . .210 

Dr. Willoughby's library was as follows : 

Inv. Mch. 3, 1686. 

6 Books of Phisick in folio, . . . 240 

14 " " " quarto, . . . 220 

8 " " " octavo, . , . 075 

16 " " " XIJ, . . . 096 

66 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



6 history books in folio, 

12 " " " quarto, most old, 
A bible in large quarto, 

2 Books of Divinity in folio, 

20 " " " quarto, 

27 " " " octavo, most old, 

25 " " " XI J, 

13 old Books, ..... 
A parcel of old imperfect books, 

2 Books of Law in folio, 



4 " 


(( 


" quarto 


9 " 


(C 


" 8°, 


23 " 


(C 


" XVJ, 



lbs. tobacco 
120 
120 
120 
100 
340 
270 
230 
030 
030 
150 
,080 
180 
230 



Table forks did not come into use till the close of this 
period, the "fFork" or "Heshfork" being merely the large 
one used in the kitchen to remove the meat from the spit 
or pot. In 1 70 1 John Goodwin's inventory shows a case 
of ivory-hafted knives and forks at the surprisingly low 
value of seven shillings. The statement in Leah and Rachel 
(1656), "There is good store of plate in many houses," is 
abundantly justified by the inventories. 

Warming-pans were a necessity. During the seven- 
teenth century they were commonly in England orna- 
mented in various ways, generally with subjects either of 
figures or of scrolls of foliage beaten up in relief. In 
richer examples the brass cover was cut through in per- 
forated or openwork. Ladies and cavaliers, peacocks and 
fiowers, arc found as decorations, and the incised carving 
on the figures was often carefully done. The handle was 
usually of iron, fitted into wood. The handles of the 
finer examples have often brass mounts. Fourteen inches 
was the usual diameter of the pan. 

67 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

We have already spoken of the conditions of trade in 
Virginia. English ships brought in most of the articles of 
household use, but not all. The home authorities made 
strenuous but not altogether successful efforts to exclude 
the pushing Dutch traders. Dutch furniture found its 
way into the houses and has left its mark in the inven- 
tories. Instances have already been given. 

The influence of the French Renaissance was beginning 
to tell, and fashion also created a strong demand for the 
wares in the manufacture of which the Dutch particularly 
excelled. Marquetry was one of the distinguishing char- 
acteristics of their furniture, and we may be permitted to 
say a few words concerning this form of inlaying. 

In western Europe during the seventeenth century 
marquetry was extensively used and became the leading 
feature of furniture decoration. Inlaying had long been 
in use, but the new marquetry was a picturesque composi- 
tion, a more complete attempt at pictorial representation. 
The older designs represent natural flowers, especially 
tulips, foliage, birds and animals, all in gay tints, generally 
the self colours of the woods that were employed. Some- 
times the eyes and other salient points are in ivory and 
mother-of-pearl. In the earlier French marquetry designs 
picturesque landscapes, broken architecture and figures are 
represented, and colours are occasionally stained on the 
wood. Ebony and ivory were materials much in favour 
for this inlaying, as was also the case in Germany and 
Italy. When the art crossed into England with William 
of Orange, Dutch marquetry furniture became the fashion 
in the form of bandy-legged chairs, upright clock 
fronts, secretaries, or bureaus, or writing-cabinets, which 
in the upper and middle parts were closed with doors, 

68 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



as well as other pieces that offered services for such 
decoration. 

Under this influence the chairs and other articles of 
furniture relinquished their severe lines and assumed the 
curves that are charac- 
teristic of the ensuing 
period. A good exam- 
ple of this is afforded 
by a chair, which, per- 
haps, owes more to the 
influence of the French 
Renaissance than the 
Dutch. It belonged to 
the second William Byrd 
immediately at the close 
of this period, and was 
one of a set used in the 
dining-room of his home 
at Westover. The back 
and seat are stuffed and 
upholstered in velvet, 
the back legs terminate 
in the hoof form and 
the front in the ball and 
claw, which Chippen- 

11 1 „^ 1 • 1 1 ward directly from the corner of the iCJt and i* boldly and 

dale adopted with such g^cefaUy ci^ with the acanthu.. 

affection. The leg 

curves outward directly from the corner of the seat, and 
is boldly and gracefully carved with the acanthus. This 
chair now belongs to Miss Elizabeth Byrd Nicholas, of 
Washington, D. C. 

It presents a striking contrast in general style to the 




CHAIR SHOWING THE RENAISSANCE 
INFLUENCE 
Belonged to the tecond Colonel William Byrd of West* 
over; now owned by Mist Elizabeth Byrd Nicholas, 
Washington, D. C. The back and seat are stuffed and 
upholstered in velvet; the back legs terminate in hoof 
form, the front in the ball and claw. The leg curves out- 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

black oak sideboard on opposite page. The latter is an 
English piece and is said to have belonged to Lord Balti- 
more. It was long in possession of the family of Charles 
Carroll, of Carrollton of Maryland, and is now owned by 
Mrs. Edward C. Pickering of the Observatory, Cambridge, 
Mass. The lion's head, in high relief, is a bold piece of 
carving ; the brass handles are modern additions. 

Home-made furniture was also found in convsiderable 
quantities, though only the rougher kinds. Francis Finch 
(1678) had a "couch made in this country;" John Good- 
win (1701) owned a "Virginia table," and a "Virginia- 
made bedstead" is sometimes mentioned. The general 
absence of home-made furniture was, however, remarkable. 
In describing Virginia, in 1 705, Beverley says : " They are 
such abominable ill husbands that, though their country be 
overrun with wood, yet they have all their wooden ware 
from England — their cabinets, chairs, tables, stools, chests, 
boxes, cart-wheels and all other things, even so much as 
their bowls and birchen brooms, to the eternal reproach of 
their laziness." We have seen that this statement is some- 
what too sweeping. It was the policy of the authorities 
rather than native laziness that was responsible for the con- 
dition of affairs. The Southerners were prevented, if pos- 
sible, from trading with their enterprising brethren in New 
England as well as with the Dutch. The following ex- 
tracts from the Maryland Assembly Proceedings are inter- 
esting in this connection : 

May 28, 1697. 
Proposed : 

4. " That a law be made to lay an Imposicon upon all manner of 
wooden ware and ffish brought from New England & other adjacent 
places, as also upon Sugar & Mallassoes imported by strangers." 

70 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

June the 8th, 1697. 

The Lords of Council for trade & plantacons laid before the 
house as followith : 

6. " Generally all the Inhabitants of this province being La- 
bourers are imployed in planting tobacco except Coopers Carpen- 
ters, some few that navigate sloopes and a very small number of 
other artificers having relation to Tobacco, all which excepted (by 
Estimacon) make not above the 60th part of such labourers." 

8. " This privince hath little traffick with any other his Matys 
Colonys in America or elsewhere, and the little traffick which is 
vsed is by exporting hence porke, beife, pipe staves, timber and such 
like, together with wheat, flour and some small quantities of tobacco, 
to Barbadoes either by small Craft belonging to this province or 
New England who trade here for rum, sugar & malasses most 
especially & some parcells of fish & some (inconsiderable) wooden 
wares of their owne manufacture." 

The court records of Essex County, Virginia, for May 
7, 1685, afford interesting details from which we may 
form a picture of the furnishing of a court-house of the 
day. It seems that a chair made by a local carpenter was 
good enough for the President of the Court, and that the 
other members had to be content with a hard bench. 

" Ordered that Maximilian Robinson be allowed 450 lbs. tob 
& cask, the price for a table by him sold for the use of the Court 
to be held on the North side of the River. 

" Whereas, it is agreed between this Court & Thomas Bradly 
that the sd Bradley do between this and the beginning of July next 
make and in workman-like manner set up Banisters Cross the 
Roome where the Court is held on the North side the River, of an 
Usuall hight & distance & inclosing the table, with a doore to pass 
to the table, convenient in some part of the said Banisters. And 
that the sd Bradley do make a fform answerable to the sd table and 
a Bench of Plank sufficient to sitt upon in the Roome & place of 
the bench that now is. Also a Chaire for the President of the Court 

7« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

at the upper End of the table next the shed, and lastly that he raise 
and Enlarge the Back Window of the Court house next the Orchard 
and make one more window on the same side (4 ft. sq.) and to fill 
up the back doore of the said Roome if it shall hereafter seem nec- 
essary for wch sd Work (he shall be allowed) 1 100 lbs of Tobb & 
Cask Convenient." 

While doing this work he was to have his " dyett & 
Lodging with Peter Tayler " (who was to be paid later). 

At this Court were present Colonel John Stone, Cap- 
tain Sam'l Blomfield, Captain Geo. Tayler, Mr. Jas. Har- 
rison, Mr. H'y Awbrey, and Mr. Sam'l Peacheyo 

A comparison of the furniture imported by the wealthy 
settlers of Maryland and Virginia with the contemporary 
furniture used in England will only prove again that Eng- 
lish life was transplanted as far as was possible to the shores 
of the glittering Chesapeake. In many respects the planter 
lived as does the English country gentleman to-day. His 
was a life of ease and pleasure and generous hospitality, but 
not of idleness. The interests of the land-owner and 
planter were enormous, and his duties as importer and 
merchant were not less significant. We have already seen 
that ships landed their wares at the foot of his lawn ; but we 
have not mentioned that with the gift that the English 
possess of making attractive homes in any strange land, the 
settlers of the South spared neither thought nor pains to 
surround themselves with comforts and beauty. For ex- 
ample, one George Menifie came to Virginia in 1623, and 
in 1634 we find him living at Littleton on the James 
River, not far below Jamestown, with a large garden that 
" contained fruits of Holland and Roses of Provence ; his 
orchard was planted with apple, pear and cherry trees ; and 
he cultivated here the first peach trees introduced into Amer- 

7» 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ica. Around the house grew, in the fashion of the time, 
rosemary, thyme and marjoram." 

What we have already said with regard to the homes 
and living of the Virginians and Marylanders is em- 
phasized by the words of Mr. Thomas Nelson Page : 
** Virginia was settled with a strong English feeling in- 
grained in her, with English customs and habits of life, 
with English ideas, modified only to suit the conditions of 
life here. Among the chief factors which influenced Vir- 
ginia life, and moulded it in its peculiar form, were this 
English feeling (which was almost strong enough to call a 
race feeling) ; the aristocratic tendency ; the happy combi- 
nation of soil, climate and agricultural product (tobacco), 
which made them an agricultural people, and enabled them 
to support a generous style of living as landed gentry ; the 
Church with its strong organization ; and the institution of 
slavery." 

So far, we have dealt with Virginia and Maryland ex- 
clusively, but in the meantime the proprietary government 
of South Carolina had been established, and along the 
Ashley River much the same conditions prevailed. All 
the early explorers of the southern coast refer in enthusias- 
tic terms to the magnificent forests of that region. They 
speak of the quality and variety of the splendid timber — 
oak, ash, cypress, walnut, bay, maple, poplar, cedar, hick- 
ory, birch, elm, laurel and holly. 

The Earl of Shaftesbury, who was so active in planting 
the new colony, regarded timber as an important source of 
profit. In his instructions for Mr. Andrew Percevall, dated 
from Exeter House, May 23, 1674, we read : "You are 
to send me word what trees fit for masts and to what big- 
ness and length you have any there, and at what distance 

73 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

from water carriage, and to send me samples of the timber 
of your mast trees, and of any dyeing drugs or any sort of 
timber of woods that is finely grained or scented that you 
think may be fit for cabinets and such other fine works." 

In his True Relation of a Voyage (1663), William 
Hilton reports: "The lands are laden with oaks, walnut 
and bays, except facing on the sea, it is most pines tall and 
good." 

The household goods carried by the first settlers were 
the same as had been the case in Virginia, as appears from 
"An account of the costs of the cloaths bought for the 
present expedition to Carolina, 1669." It includes: 

£ s. d. 
100 beds, rugs and pillows at 8s 6d . 42-10-0 
I leather bed .... i-io-o 

30 hamocks at 2 2d . . . . 2—14-0 

In 1 67 1 Shaftesbury sent a small chest with three locks 
to Sir John Yeamans on the Ashley River, and many other 
instances of his care are to be found. 

North Carolina differed from her sister State where so 
many Puritans, Huguenots and Quakers settled. Almost 
exclusively economic motives led various discontented men 
to leave Virginia and make new homes for themselves in 
the woods of North Carolina. They were political rather 
than religious refugees. After the suppression of Bacon's 
rebellion in 1676, that region became the "Common sub- 
terfuge and lurking-place" of those "Rogues, runaways and 
rebels" who objected to the severe rule of Sir William 
Berkeley in Virginia. For a long time that settlement 
was backward and neglected. The attention of the people 
at home was directed almost exclusively to the plantations 
on the Ashley River. Under such circumstances the houses 

74 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and household goods were rough and primitive. For fifty 
years there were no towns. Bath was the first to be incor- 
porated (1704), and in 1709 it had only "about twelve 
houses." 

The Ashley River settlement soon rivaled V^irginia and 
Maryland in wealth and prosperity, and the homes ot the 
planters offered equal evidence of comfort and luxury. 
The inventory of Richard Phillips (1695) among other 
things mentions ** Three standing bedsteads, flock bed bol- 
ster and cradle bed, four tables, two joint-stools, twelve 
Turkey-work chairs." The furniture came direct from 
England and the conditions of trade were very much the 
same as in Virginia. 




THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR ^^if 

FORE^FATHERS 




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^^'''^::s::::s::^::s:::::^:::s::^^ 



THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CRJTICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLATES 
By RUSSELL STURGlS 



ILLUSTRATED 



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3 s^<3 



PARI II 



OI> 




GARDEN CiTY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
19 13 





COPYRIGHT, 1 901, BY 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & CO. 



CONTENTS 



The Early Days of the Settlement of Phila- 
delphia ...... 79-81 

Its prosperity ; economic and social conditions; mode of liv- 
ing, etc., etc. 

William Penn : His House and Furniture 82—86 
The Estates of : 

John Simcock, 86; William Lewis, 87; John Moore, 88 j 
John Jones, 88. 

Francis Daniel Pastorius, Founder of German- 
town ....... 89 

His estate, 90. 

Baron Stiegel's House and Furnishings . . 90 

The Estate of Governor Patrick Gordon 91-93 
James Logan's House, " Stenton," and its Fur- 
nishings ....... 94 

Description of Furniture Belonging to Various 

Persons ...... 94-96 

Letter from Franklin to his Wife Regarding 

Household Furniture . . . 97—99 

Advertisements of the Period, 1729, Showing 

"Latest Fashions" in Furniture . . 100 

The Clockmakers of Philadelphia . . .102 

The Bed ........ 103 

Decorative effects of hangings and furniture; extract from 

Miss Sarah Kve's journal regarding the same; letter from 

Mrs. Franklin to her husband describing furnishings oi her 
house, 104. 



CONTENTS 



Furniture, Conditions, Etc., 

In South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland during Revolution- 
ary days, 108 ; prosperity of the planters of the period, 109. 

The Inventories and Estates of Various Per- 
sons ....... 

Famous Houses of the First Half of the 
Eighteenth Century .... 

Glimpses into the Incerior of Mansions of the 
Period . . . . . .116— 

Inventory of Table Goods and Chattels of 
Joseph Wragg, Esc^ ..... 

Amusements of the Planters .... 

The card table and its furnishings, 127; shuffle-board; back- 
gammon-tables; checker-boards, etc., etc., 128. 

Various Tables ....... 

Their values, 129; tea-table furnishings, 132-134. 

China ...... . 130— 

Silverware, Plate, and Table Furnishings 132— 
Chairs of the Period .... 134— 

Their prices, shapes, materials, etc., etc. 

The Table ....... 139— 

The Carpet ...... 

The Cupboard ...... 

The Chest of Drawers .... 

The Clock ....... 

Pictures and Maps ..... 

Mahogany ... 
General Remarks Regarding Furniture of the 
Period ...... 



FuRNiruRE IN Louisiana 



151- 



10 

15 

20 

25 
26 

29 

31 
34 
39 

40 
44 

45 
46 

46 

47 
48 

49 

52 




T:x .1 K^ 7 



^mi List of Illustrations 



WITH CRITICAL NOTES ON MANY OF 
THE PLATES BY RUSSELL STURGIS 



ALL THE NOTES rullNISHED BY M*. iTUECIt 
AKE FOLLOWED BY Hit INITIALS, R. I. 



Ill 



79 



Frontispiece ..... facing 

Washington*! bed-room at Mount Vernon, with all the original furnitarr. 

Chest WITH Bands of Stamped Iron Work facing 

Chest with straps of iron for strength and for ornament. Such pieces were made in 
Spain and Portugal as early as the sixteenth century, and if this is of the eighteenth 
century it it a survival, the old pattern being kept in mind or reproduced in a provincial 
region or in a foreign country. The iron work is all in thin sheet metal ( originally 
tinned ) beaten up from below and chased on the surface and secured to the planks by 
clenched nails whose heads form a part of the design. The two large bolt-heads near the 
front edge of the top in the middle show where the striking-plate or bolder of the lock is 
secured; the lock itself, bein; safely inside of the chest and only to be got at by cutting 
the wovxl away, has been thought not to need special fastenings. The handles, large and 
heavy and meant for the grajp of two hands upon each handle, are an important part of 
the decoration. The charm of the piece i>, however, in the very spirited semi-oriental 
design of the iron straps. R. S. 

Philadelphia in 1700. From a Very Old Paint- 
ing IN THE Philadelphia Library . . 81 

William Penn's Desk, and an Historical Chair 

facing 82 

Desk with hinged cover or flap to form writing table, with moulding to retain it in pbce, 
the two pieces evidently intended for one another; the brasies apparently original. This 
excellent specimen of simple and utilitarian design would seem to be of the earliest years 
of the eighteenth century, but for the overlapping firont of the drawer; moreover a piece 
•o devoid of oriument must needs be hard to date. Long established residents of Barn- 
stable, Dedham and C^insy, as well as the old families of Pennsylvania, had such pieces as 
thii in common use as late as 1850; and the traditions of origin for such pieces are almost 
valueless. Such a piece as this with its braises and all complete might have been made 
anywhere from 17^0 to 1820— according to the opportunities possessed by the local 
joiner of seeing imported furniture. 

Windsor armchair with revolving seat and attached reiding-desk. The pattern » of 
about 1 770 though the carved arms suggest a somewhat earlier date. It was used by 
Thomas Jefferson while writing the Declaration of Independence. See what is said of 
similar chairs in this division of the woik. 

The student should observe the difference betwe-n the writing-desk on the r'ght arm of a 
chair, suggesting pencil notes made hastily, and the desk mounted on the Irtta-m, which 
is nearly always made to swing in a pivot and may be drawn to any position in front of the 
person using it. R. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGS 

Two Chairs of William Penn's . . . '85 

One has a cane back and scat with arms and turtied rails and legs with fluted feet ; the 
other is a good example of the chair common in the iirst years of the century under the 
Dutch influence, with slightly cabriole legs and hoof feet. 

William Penn's Secretary . . facing 83 

From Pennsbury Mansion. Owned by the Philadelphia Library Co. (The top moulding 
has been restored.) 

Two Early Eighteenth Century Chairs . . 87 

Armchair (the left-hand one) the close of seventeenth or first quarter of the eighteenth 
century. High- backed chairs and armchairs which are distinguished by horizontal slats 
which form the back, seem to have been commonly described as "three-back" chairs^ 
"five-back" chairs, etc., according to the number of these pieces. Armchair (the 
right-hand one) of about I 700, but remodelled at a subsequent time, probably to secure a 
lower seat than was thought practicable or reasonable at the original date. R. S. 

Spinet or Clavichord . . . facing 90 

Spinet or clavichord ; the case supported upon two frames of two legs each, the straining- 
pieces connected by a longitudinally fitted board adjusted into uprights. This admirable 
piece illustrates well the simple designing of a time when, partly from the influence of 
Puritanism and partly from the accepted doctrine that ornament should be architectural 
and formal, the older and more richly adorned designs have been abandoned. The turned 
legs would suggest a date as late as 1740, but an earlier epoch is suggested by the delicate 
chamfers of the horizontal straining-pieces, and especially by the stopped chamfering of 
their upper edges. R. S. 

Charleston Room with Eighteenth Century 
Bed ...... facing 

In the house of Mrs. Andrew Simonds. 



91 



A Table ........ 94 

Table of make so simple that there are no characteristics which could determine the date 
except the brasses, which, if the original ones, as ]s stated and as is probable, would, by 
the character of the pierced escutcheons, fix the date at about 1760. R. S. 

A Chair and Communion Table . . -97 

A chair and communion table belonging to the early part of the century. They are 
from Donegal, Lancaster Co., Pa., and date from 1722. Both pieces are common types 
in use in England and the colonies during the seventeenth and early eighteenth cen- 
turies, and were to be found in any ordinary house ; there is nothing distinctively ec- 
clesiastical about them. The silver communion cups are also plain and severe. 

Two Effective Eighteenth Century Chairs . 99 

Armchair with turned legs, straining-pieces and balusters, date undetermined, as such 
simple designs were constantly followed by workmen in the small towns; perhaps 1780. 
The bars turned into egg-shaped units set end to end are probably the feeble eflx)rts of 
workmen who could not produce the spirals. They have an obvious connection with the 
beaded astragal of the architects, and this fact may have helped to establish the fashion. 
Chair, bandy-legged and with claw feet delicately carved in the taste of Chippendale's 
simpler work and probably from his workshop about 1750. R. S. 

John Dickinson's Reading-desk; and Two Early 

Chairs ..... facing igo 

Owned by the Philadelphia Library Co. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



rAGB 



Two Eighteenth Century Chairs . . . loi 

Chair, about 1 740 with ruth teat. The timple (ksigni of the time do not neeo carv- 
ing, iolaying or delicate workmanship to make them attractive. If to-day a skilful 
workman would enlarge the seat and modify the curvature of the back until, by careful 
experiment he should reach the proper form of a dining-room chair, nothiiig but good 
workmanship and tinUh and the retention of the original curves would be necessary. 
Armchair with bandy-legs and claw feet, about 1780. The back was not originally up- 
bohtcred. The upholstered aeat has Icat iu original covering. R. S. 

Chair and Card Table . . . . . io8 

The piece* belonged to Hon. Jasper Yeates, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of 
Pennsylvania from 179 1-18 17. Both pieces are of walnut. The chair is Dutch in 
character, squat in appearance and with cabriole legs with claw and hall feet, and shell 
ornaments. The folding table has also cabriole legs with eagle claw and ball feet. The 
two pieces are now owned by Dr. John H. Brinton of Philadelphia, the great-grand- 
son of Jasper Yeates. 

Library Chair of Benjamin Franklin facing ioi 

A chair which may be used as a step-Udder by turning up the seat. Formerly belonging 
to Benjamin Franklin, it is now used as chair for the president oi the American 
Philosophical Society. 

Table and Two Chairs . . . facing 112 

The chairs and table belonged originally to Mr. Philip Tabb of Toddsbury, the old 
Tabb homestead on North River, Gloucester Co., Va., and were given by Dr. John 
Prosser Tabb to his daughter, Mrs. Penin. 

Lord Dunmore's Chair . . . . • 113 

This chair of the early part of the eighteenth century is preserved in Baltimore, Md., 
in the house of the Colonial Dames. It belonged to the last Colonial Governor of Vir- 
ginia, Lord Dunmore. 

Shaving-glass and Chest of Drawers facing 113 

Shaving. glass with drawers. Middle of the eighteenth century. Interesting because 
covered with ornament in lacquer, stated to be Chinese. Such pieces were imported 
from China and also from Japan through the Dutch settlement at Kago&ima. Also 
in Holland during the seventeenth century and as late as 1750 the lacquer decora- 
tion of the Japanese was imitated in a way not deceptive but capable uf considerable ef- 
fect. The pieces lacquered in Japan were evidently made by Europeans and it is 
thought that many of them were sent out from Holland, complete except for the surface 
adornment and brought back when completed. R. S. 

Mahogany Card Table AND Two Chairs facing ii8 

These chairs belonged to Colonel John Mayo of Belleville, inherited through John de 
Hart, one of the members of the Continental Congress (1774-5-6), and attorney- 
general of New Jersey. The table is about I 50 years old. 

Desk, Dressing-Table and Two Chairs . .119 

These fiaur pieces are from Lafayette's Room, Mount Vernon. 

Desk and Chair ..... facing 119 

Desk or secretary with drawers ; the step in development next after the old chest or 
drawers o( which few examples remain. Such pieces were made of applewood or birch 
stained red when mahogany was considered too costly, but there exist solid mahogany and 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACE 

also mahogany veneered pieces very similar in design and their style varies little during 
the greater part of the eighteenth century. In this instance the drop-handles probably 
and the casters certainly are modern. Corner chair or roundabout chair of about the 
middle of the eighteenth century. R. S. 

Four Interesting Chairs . . . . -123 

These chairs are in the River Room, Mount Vernon. The one next to the extreme 
right belonged to Benjamin P'ranklin. 

Wine-Cooler AND Butler's Tray . facing 126 

Wine-cooler and butler's tray belonging to Mr. Thomas Boiling, Richmond, Va., 
originally owned by his great-grandfather, Thomas Boiling of Cobbs. On the Boiling 
silver tray stands a Boiling cream jug. The copper urn is a Boiling piece, and the 
wine-cooler is a piece of Randolph silver with the coat-of-arms on one side and the crest 
on the other. The bottle has on its side : " Boiling Cobbs, 1772." 

Windsor Armchair . . . . . .129 

Windsor armchair with fan-shaped back and supporting braces for the back. The 
pattern was introduced in America as early as 1770, but was followed for many years 
without serious change. 

Three Mahogany Pieces . . . facing 127 

Eighteenth century spoon-case, knife-box and tea caddy. 

Chair . . . . . . . -131 

Windsor armchair of an early pttern; fan-shaped arrangement of the balusters. This 
piece is much more elaborate in the pattern of its turning than most Windsor chairs, and 
has also carved arms, which are very unusual. On these accounts it should be dated 
about 1750. R. S. 

A Chair Owned by William Penn . . -135 

Armchair with cane seat and back ; a delicately finished piece of simple design. The 
student should notice the excellent turning of the spirals; those of the back are 
singularly bold, the hollow of the spiral very deep and it is possible that these are of a 
different date from the much less effective spirals of the uprights and straining-pieces in 
front. 

Eighteenth Century Chair . . facing 137 

Chair probably about 1760 by Thomas Chippendale or some close imitation of his. The 
carving is very delicate. Indeed the marked peculiarity of this piece is the great sim- 
plicity of the main lines, as of the frame, and the extreme delicacy and richness of the 
carving, which is rather closely studied from natural plant-form. R. S. 

Bedstead with Tester Valance . facing 140 

Bedstead in the general style of that shown in plate facing page 142, but with the carving 
much less elaborate. The curtains are not in place, but a tester valance, or lambrequin 
replaces them, probably to avoid the naked look of the unused wooden framework. R. S. 

Bedstead ...... facing 141 

\ Bedstead with richly carved high posts and bars for light curtains or mosquito nets. This 

is one of several pieces in this collection which are enriched by very elaborate carving of 
a kind which, originating near the end of the seventeenth century, continued to be used 
as late as iS-^o by those furniture makers who aimed at solidity and richness of effect. 
Thus while Chippendale, Sheraton and Heppelwhite were following the more original 
styles identified with their names, other workmen seem to have gone back, continually, 
to such elaborate work as is shown by this plate, enjoying as their customers must have 
done, the effect of the carving in very dark and heavy wood. Compare plate ^cing 
page 140 with this. R. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 



DrESSING-TaBLE .... FACING 1 44 

Thi* nubofany drening-table U owned by Mn. Andrew Simondi, Cbarietton, S. C. 

Mahogany Chair and Dressing-Case . • ^45 

Old mahogany chair and dretsing case (very small) imported by Randolph of Curlti 
in 1721. Owned by Mrs. J. Adair Pleatantt, Richmond, Va. (Original bra« handlci. ) 

Two Eighteenth Century Clocks . facing 145 

The tall clock at used in France and elsewhere on the continent was made the medium 
of the most elaborate decoration; but English and of courae American clock cases were 
usually very simple in design as in the present cases. 

Tall clocks, the cases of about the middle of the eighteenth century. Clocks in high 
cases were the natural successors of those brass clocks ( made of metal without as well as 
within) which were in use in the seventeenth century. Those clocks were set high on 
the wall, supported on a shelf or bracket through holes in which the weights ran down 
perhaps nearly to the floor. They had short pcndulunts or were driven by springs in 
much the same fashion as a watch. The introduction of the long pendulum about the 
beginning of the seventeenth century was one cause of the introduction of the tall case, 
but the desire to thut all the works up from the dust must have helped in the movement. 
R. S. 

Two Chairs . . . . . . .148 

Chair and armchair ; very delicately carved in mahogany ; date about 1 760 The deli- 
cacy of the carving leads to the conclusion that these were the work of Thomas Chip- 
pendale and from his London workshop, the date about 1 7 50. The designs are somewhat 
less intelligently made, the main lines less significant than in Chippendale's best work ; but 
these are very valuable pieces, and for effectiveness of simple carving hard to equal. R. S. 

Eighteenth Century Bookcase . . -150 

Bookcase ; later year* of eighteenth century. The piece is interesting because of the 
assertion in the design as well as in the nuke that it is a light piece for a dwelling-house. 
It is intended to be movable ; and accordingly there are handles to carry the upper book- 
case proper, and also the lower part with its drawers and cupboard. The smooth out- 
side without projecting members, with the mouldings expressing a structure of thin 
uprights and horizontals ; with the curved fronts of the lower part insisting still farther 
upon a delicate box-like structure with the reliance upon a beautiful wood for the effec- 
tiveness of the piece, this u a most admirably designed domestic bookcase. There is only 
the pattern made by the sash bars which is not in perfectly good taste. R. S. 

Some Old New Orleans Pieces . . facing 150 

Ladies' working-table, liquor set and Russian Samovar. The ladies' work-table is ex- 
ceedingly curious. Of the Louis XIV period, it is made of ebony, veneered with tortoise- 
shell and inbid with brass The drawers have secret bottoms. The liquor set, which 
is very rare, is an ebony case inlaid with nacre and bronze. The bottles and glasses are 
crystal with inlaid gold. A present to Marigny by Governor V'iliere. The two 
chandeliers of sohd silver, in the Louis XIV style, were presents from Tulendano to 
Marigny. 

The ancient Russian bronze Samovar has a tube in the cover, through which a red- 
hot iron is placed to keep the beverage warm. 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part II 





THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR rOREFATHERS 

Part II: Later Southern 

OAK, WALNUT AND EARLY MAHOGANY 



HE early days of the settlement of Philadel- 
phia were uniformly prosperous. There 
Twere no Indian massacres, nor famines, nor 
II domestic strife to hinder progress as in the 
infancy of Virginia. Respectable working- 
men found a hearty welcome, and, when 
they could not pay their own way, they could work under 
indentures and at the end of their time start on their own 
account with good prospects. 

Men of wealth accompanied and followed Penn to his 
haven of quietude in the woods of the west, and many of the 
small yeomen class of English who had a little money of 
their own, crossed the Atlantic to improve their condition 
and worship as they pleased without molestation. 

The way was prepared in a measure for the new settlers 
by the Swedes who were already established in the region. 

79 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The condition of the latter is described by T. Paskel, who 
in 1683 writes : 

" There are some Swedes and Finns who have lived 
here forty years, and live an easy life through the abun- 
dance of commodities, but their clothes were very mean 
before the coming of the English, from whom they have 
bought good ones, and they begin to show themselves a lit- 
tle proud. They are an industrious people. They employ 
in their building little or no iron. They will build for 
you a house without any implement than an axe. With 
the same implement they will cut down a tree, and have 
it in pieces in less time than two other men would spend 
in sawing it, and with this implement and some wooden 
wedges they split and make boards of it, or anything else 
they please with much skill. The most of them speak 
English, Swedish, Finnish and Dutch . . . The woods are 
full of oaks, very high and straight. Many are about two 
feet in diameter and some even more, and a Swede will 
cut down for you a dozen of the largest in a day. We 
have here beautiful poplars, beeches, ash, linden, fir, goose- 
berry, sassafras, chestnut, hazelnut, mulberry and walnut 
trees, but few cedars and pines." 

There is very little trace of distinctive Swedish furniture, 
as might be expected from the above contemporary account 
of Queen Christina's subjects. There is, however, a curious 
"Swedish" chest in the Memorial Hall, Philadelphia, 
here reproduced. The wood is quite plain and destitute of 
carving, and the only ornamentation consists of bands of 
tinned iron work, stamped and perforated in a conventional 
floral pattern — as was the custom in Spanish and Portu- 
guese work. (See Mr. Sturgis's note on this picture.) 

At Philadelphia the first arrivals lived in caves along 

80 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the river banks until they could put up wooden houses. 
In his Annals of Philadelphia^ Watson gives an instance of 
a woman named Elizabeth Hard who came to Philadel- 
phia with Penn and joined her sister ** in a cave on the 
bank of the river," and relates that one of her descendants 
showed him a napkin made from flax spun in that cave by 
Elizabeth Hard and woven by the Germans in German- 
town, and "a very pretty chair^ low and small, which had 
been a sitting chair in that cave." 

Persecution and want in the Old World started an ex- 
odus of men and women to the wilderness regardless of 
creature comforts left behind, but some of the wealthier 
emigrants did not start from England until careful, 
quaintly specified preparations had been made for their re- 
ception by relatives and friends already in the colony. 

A considerable amount of household goods was taken 
out by such settlers in Penn's Woods, and the houses rapidly 
improved in construction and convenience. Brick was used 
in building within two years. 



e 



A--,-. .^^^ 




*4!vl4 





_^^4J^j-sL« > 



PHILADELPHIA IN I72O 
From a very old painting in the Philadelphia Library. 



Thus Philadelphia became a flourishing town in an 
astonishingly short space of time. Six hundred houses, 
many of them substantial edifices built of home-made brick 
after English models, sprang up within three years, and 



Si 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

within fifteen years of its settlement, the district contained 
many prosperous planters and merchants. 

Penn took the greatest interest in preparing his home 
in the New World. His letters to James Harrison, his 
chief steward, or agent, from 1681 to 1687, are full of in- 
structions regarding furniture. 

In 1685 he writes that "a Dutchman, joiner and car- 
penter," is coming " that is to work one hundred and fifty 
days, and pay me ^^5 or ^7 country money, for £j sterling 
lent him. Let him wainscot and make tables and stands : 
but chiefly help on the outhouses, because we shall bring 
much furniture y A month later: " Get some wooden chairs 
of walnut with long backs, and two or three eating tables for 
twelve, eight and five persons, with falling leaves to them." 

The tract of Pennsbury, in Bucks County, bought from 
an Indian chief and originally called Sepessin, contained, in 
1684, about 3431 acres. 

The substantial brick house, sixty feet front, forty feet 
deep and two stories and a half high, was embellished with 
materials imported from England and was built in 1682-3. 
Little wonder that the colonists referred to it as the 
palace! Several rooms opened into the large hall for 
meetings with the Council, entertainments, and pow-wows 
with the Indians. The kitchen, like the Southern kitchens, 
was in an outer building. The stable had room for twelve 
horses. The lawn, which was terraced to the river, and 
the grounds and gardens, were very beautiful. Indeed, 
most of the wealthy colonists aimed to duplicate in this New 
World the fine estates they had left in England. Trees, 
shrubs, hardy herbaceous plants, seeds, sun-dials and garden 
tools they imported constantly. Every traveller of the 
period (including Peter Kalm, the Swedish botanist) men- 

83 




WILLIAM PENN'S SECRETARY 

From Pennsbury Mansion', nonv in the Philadelphia Public Library. {T'he top moulding hat been restored.') 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tions the beautiful gardens around the homes in and near 
Philadelphia. Penn had a coach, a calash, and a sedan- 
chair, but he preferred travelling to the city in his barge. 

But let us see of what Penn's furniture consisted. The 
great hall contained one long table and two forms, six 
chairs, five mazarins (i. e., mazers, or bowls), two cisterns, 
and " sundries others," and many pewter dishes. The 
little hall was furnished with six leather chairs and five 
maps. In the "best parlour" were two tables, one couch, 
two great cane chairs and four small cane chairs, and a 
number of cushions, four of which were of satin and three 
of green plush. The other parlour was furnished with 
two tables, six chairs, one great leather chair, one clock, 
and " a pair of brasses." Going upstairs, we find that the 
" best chamber " contains a bed and bedding, " a suit of satin 
curtains," and " sundry tables, stands and cane chairs." 
The next chamber has in it a bed and beddmg, six cane 
chairs and "a suit of camblet curtains." Next to this is 
another bedroom, with one wrought bed and bedding 
and six wooden chairs. The nursery contains "one pallet 
bed, two chairs of Master John, and sundries ; " and in 
the next chamber we find a bed and bedding, " one suit 
of striped linen curtains, four rush-bottomed chairs, etc." 

The garret holds " four bedsteads, two beds, three side- 
saddles — one of them my mother's — two pillions." In 
the closet and best chamber there are " bed and bedding, 
two silk blankets and white curtains, also two damask cur- 
tains for windows, six cane chairs, one hanging press." 
In the kitchen there is mention of "a grate iron, one pair 
of racks, three spits, and one pair of great dogs." There 
was much plate in the house. Penn lived here only one 
year, 1 700-1. His secretary, now in the Philadelphia 

•s 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Library Co.'s rooms, is made of English oak. This was 
originally in the Pennsbury house. 

William Penn's clock is also shown in the Philadel- 
phia Library. Its case is oak inlaid, and a piece of bull's- 
eye glass is inserted in front of the pendulum. The clock 
was an importation ; the spiral columns at the sides of 
the dial were a favourite design for the long-case clocks. 

"Towards the end of Charles IPs reign," we learn 
from F. J. Britten's Old Clocks and Watches (London, 
1899), "the brass chamber clock with a wooden hood 
developed into the long-case eight-day variety, now famil- 
iarly termed * grandfather,' and veritable specimens of that 
period, though rare, are occasionally met with. In the 
earliest the escapement was governed by either the two- 
armed balance with weights, or by a *bob' pendulum; 
the long, or * royal ' pendulum came into general use about 
1680. Some of these primitive grandfathers were exceed- 
ingly narrow in the waist, only just sufficient width being 
allowed for the rise and fall of the weights. A curious 
addition to these cases is sometimes seen in the form of 
wings or projections on each side of the waist, to permit 
the swing of a *■ royal ' pendulum. Sheraton seems to have 
suggested a revival of these wings." 

There is a clock in the Philadelphia Public Library 
which belonged to William Hudson, Mayor of Phila- 
delphia in 1725-26. His father purchased it at a sale in 
London, where the auctioneer stated that the time-piece 
had once belonged to Oliver Cromwell. 

The chair from Pennsbury, reproduced on page 135, 
has a cane back and seat, with turned supports and rails. 

In Independence Hall are two other chairs of walnut 
that belonged to William Penn. One has a cane back and 

84 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




TWO CHAIRS OF WILLIAM PENN S 

In Independence Hall, Philadelphia. 



seat with arms and turned rails, and legs with fluted feet ; 
the other is a good example of the chair common in the 
first years of the century under the Dutch influence, with 
slightly cahriole legs and hoof feet. 

A desk of Penn's is in the collection of the His- 
torical Society of Pennsylvania. It is of walnut, solid 
and heavy. The only attempt at decoration is in the 
curves into which the front har is cut, and the cabriole 
legs with hoofed feet. A long, deep drawer runs the whole 
length of the desk below the flap. It is fitted with brass 
handles and key plates. See plate facing page 82. 

One of our illustrations (page 87) shows examples of 

»5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

rush-bottomed and cane chairs that so constantly occur in 
the colonists' inventories at this period. The legs and 
arms are curved and turned. The one on the left has the 
inscription : 

*' / know not where, 
I know not when. 
But in this chair 
Sat William Penn." 

These two specimens are also in the Historical Society 
of Pennsylvania. 

Even prior to 1700 the house of the well-to-do planter 
in Pennsylvania was by no means bare or lacking in com- 
fort, but we miss the arm.y of chairs and the china that 
were to be found in the colonies further south. There is 
an atmosphere of greater reserve and less liberal hospitality 
in the household goods of Penn's followers than we feel in 
Virginia, Maryland and Carolina. The furniture, however, 
is evidently the same, both in style and material, and most 
of it comes from England. 

Estates of more than a thousand pounds in value were 
quite numerous in the early years of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. Among others, John Simcock (died in 1703) may 
be cited. His possessions were valued at more than ^^i 500, 
but unfortunately the only object in household use men- 
tioned is a silver tankard, ^^14. Of men in more moder- 
ate circumstances we have many examples. There is 
Abraham Hooper, a joiner (1707). His "shop goods" 
would undoubtedly include the rougher kinds of home- 
made tables and chairs. His dwelling and the lot it stood 
on were valued at jC^'^S » household goods and shop goods, 
^246; tools, ;^54; walnut, cedar, pine and oak, ;^22. 
He was worth nearly £joo in all. Then we have Wil- 

86 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

liam Lewis, in 1708, who was some ;£^200 poorer. He 
was a Welshman, and it would seem that the appraiser of 
his goods was one of his own countrymen, or else a wag 
who carried his jesting even into the spelling of court 
records. We remember how Fluellen speaks of " the poys 
and the luggage," "the pragging knave, who prings me 




TWO EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ARMCHAIRS 
The chair to the Ich belunged tu William Penn. The right-band one ha« been remodelled. 

pread," and "a prave pattle." Besides the usual linen, tools, 
implements and utensils, Mr. Lewis owned a long table 
and six chairs; four chests and five boxes; one black wal- 
nut and two oak bedsteads, two rugs, "curtains, iron rods 
and valience, 2 plankett at ^^2-1 0-0, 2 more at ;^i-i5-o, 
2 old plankett, 2 old poulsters and i small bag, ;^i-i5-o;" 
a small looking-glass and two pairs of scales. 

Many individuals who were by no means indigent 

I7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

lived with the plainest surroundings. For instance, John 
Moore died in 171 9 worth ^^319. His dwelling and 
plantation of 100 acres were valued at ;^ioo. Besides the 
usual kitchen stuff, all the furniture he possessed consisted 
of two feather beds and bedding, a rough table, four chairs, 
a trunk, and a looking-glass. 

John Jones was a gentleman of wealth, and his posses- 
sions show that his tastes were not so simple as those of 
many of his contemporaries, who were far richer. At his 
death in 1708, his personal estate amounted to ^^773-6-2. 
Mr. Jones is especially interesting on account of owning 
one of the earliest pieces of mahogany to be found here — 
a "broaken mahogany skreen," which is set down at two 
shillings. It was not therefore very highly esteemed, for 
that sum is the estimated value of two leather stools, or a 
glass tea-cup and coffee-cup, in the same inventory. The 
Windsor chair also appears here, three being worth ten 
shillings. It is thus evident that Mr. Jones liked to keep 
up with the latest fashions. His plate comprised two 
silver tankards, two caudle cups, one porringer, fifteen 
spoons and three large dram cups, all worth j^42-i-8. 

Evidence of good living is ample in the large amount 
of brass and copper pots and pans and kitchen stuff 
of all kinds. Among the glass, china and earthenware, 
we notice seventeen earthen plates and two fruit dishes, a 
small punch bowl, five glasses, seven basons and saucers, 
two jugs, three sugar pots, a dish, a lignum-vitae punch 
bowl, etc. A pair of tobacco-tongs and fourteen dozen 
pipes attest Mr. Jones's indulgence in the weed. 

It is in the beds, however, and their coverings and cur- 
tains, that Mr. Jones's decorative taste is chiefly noticeable. 
He possessed seven or eight bedsteads, with cords, sacking- 

88 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

bottoms and rods, the value of which varied from ten shillings 
to two pounds. There was a large quantity of bed and table 
linen, besides "a chimney valence," sideboard cloths, and 
two little striped carpets. In addition to the beds, we find 
seven hammocks, the cheapest being worth three shillings, 
and the choicest, *'with double fringe," j^2-io-o. No pic- 
tures graced the walls, but twelve maps of Barbadoes occur. 

Specimens of the Windsor chair, mentioned above, are 
very numerous. Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, possesses 
a number of them. A good example that came from 
Washington's Presidential Mansion, in Philadelphia, is now 
owned by the Philadelphia Library. (See page 131.) 

Another interesting specimen of one variety of the 
Windsor chair was that used by Thomas Jefferson while 
writing the Declaration of Independence. The seat is 
double, allowing the top part to revolve. It is unusually 
low and has apparently been cut down to suit the conven- 
ience of its owner. It is now owned by the American 
Philosophical Society, in Philadelphia. 

Francis Daniel Pastorius, born in Franconia, in 1651, 
joined the Pietists, and took a colony of German and 
Dutch Memnonites and Quakers to Pennsylvania, where 
he arrived in 1683, He had previously visited Penn, in 
England, and joined the Society of Friends. On his arrival 
he founded Germantown, and until his death was very 
influential in the community. 

Pastorius devoted much energy to teaching, and his 
knowledge is apparent in the variety of books he possessed. 
He died in 171 9, and the list of his possessions shows the 
simple style in which he lived, and is characteristic of the 
homes of his fellow mystics. One hundred primers men- 
tioned were doubtless used in his teaching. 

89 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Pastorius owned a very respectable parcel of land — 873 
acres — but the value of it was only ;^i5o. The furniture, 
exclusive of clothes, tools, household linen and kitchen 
utensils, consisted only of two cheap bedsteads with 
feather beds, a fine chest, three chairs, one table, one 
trunk, one desk and one knife and fork. He possessed 
bibles in quarto and octavo, a Greek testament, fourteen 
dictionaries, books in French (;^i), English (^12), Latin 
(j^i2). High Dutch {£s), and Low Dutch (;^6). 

Another famous house, of a far different type, was that 
built by Baron Stiegel at Mannheim. It was perfectly 
square, each side being forty feet. The bricks were im- 
ported from England, and hauled from Philadelphia by 
the baron's teams. The large parlour was hung with 
tapestry, representing hunting scenes, the chimney-pieces 
were decorated with blue tiles, and the wainscoting and 
doors were extremely fine. There was a "chapel" also 
within the house, where the baron used to preach to the 
working-men of his large glass works (founded in 1768), at 
one time the only glass factory in America. This extraordi- 
nary character, who experienced the extremes of wealth and 
poverty and who emigrated to the New World from Ger- 
many in 1750 with a fortune of ^^'40,000, used to drive 
from Philadelphia to Mannheim in a coach and four, 
preceded by postilions and a pack of hounds. He enter- 
tained lavishly and was particularly fond of music. It is 
said that he frequently bought instruments for any of his 
workmen who exhibited a talent for music, and hired 
teachers for them. A spinet that belonged to the Baron 
at Mannheim, now owned by the Pennsylvania Historical 
Society, is represented here. The accidentals are white and 
the naturals black, showing it to be a German instrument. 

90 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The height of elegance and fashion would naturally 
be looked for in the governor's mansion. Therefore an 
examination of the household goods of Governor Patrick 
Gordon, whose will and inventory are dated 1736, will 
show what was the highest degree of luxury and comfort 
at that time. Governor Gordon arrived in Philadelphia in 
1726 and was governor of Pennsylvania for ten years; he 
died at the age of ninety-two. He was a trained soldier, 
had acquired a reputation in Queen Anne's reign, and was 
exceedingly popular. 

Besides about a dozen common chairs, the list includes 
eighteen rush-bottomed walnut, eight leather, four mo- 
hair, four cane, five Windsor, and three easy-chairs. One 
of the latter was covered with plush and the other 
two were luxurious and costly. There were also three 
stools, a mohair settee, and a cane couch. There were 
eighteen tables in the house, only two of which were 
of mahogany — a small round and a tea-table. The other 
kinds mentioned were oak, two large walnut, walnut one 
leaf, small walnut, tea-table and board, ditto and cover, 
Dutch tea-table, card and backgammon, square pine small 
ditto, table and green cloth, kitchen and other ordinary 
tables. The rooms also contained six dressing-tables, one 
being of pine ; the other woods are not specified. One 
clock, two dressing-glasses, two looking-glasses, a fine 
black cabinet, a walnut desk, and a desk and a stool are 
also mentioned. Besides candle-sticks, the lighting appa- 
ratus consisted of three brass arms, two large and two 
smaller sconces (both very ornate and expensive), one pair 
of brass and one of glass branches, and two glass lanterns. 
The torches that once lighted the governor's guests to his 
door are also extinct, and their existence is slightingly 

9> 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

recorded with the words " some bits of flambeaux being of 
no value." Nine sets of andirons, dogs, and fire-irons, 
with some fenders and iron chimney-backs, garnished the 
hearths. The principal room had an iron grate and hearth- 
ware, worth only a few shillings less than the combined 
value of a mahogany table, and half a dozen walnut chairs 
in the same room. It is questionable whether the carpets 
mentioned were floor coverings, because a "floor cloth" is 
a separate item. If the "large carpet," valued at ^^5-1 5-0, 
was a table-cloth, it must have been an unusually fine pro- 
duct of the loom, or the needle, for that sum was more 
than the cost of eight leather chairs. In one room, at 
least, there were expensive damask curtains over the doors 
as well as the windows. The prices of the calico window 
curtains varied surprisingly, one set being appraised at 
twelve shillings, and another at ;^3-i5-o. Then there 
were three pairs of window curtains (^ 1-6-0), red curtains 
and silk curtains besides the window curtains in the bed- 
rooms that matched the bed hangings. A valuable gilt 
leather screen and a humbler one of canvas also served as 
a protection against draughts. The walls were adorned 
with some fifty pictures of various kinds, twenty-one of 
which were prints, including one of King George I., 
another of Queen Anne's tomb, and twelve of Hudibras. 
Loyal sentiment further appears in duplicates (in oil) of 
George I. and Anne. The nationality of the owner ac- 
counts for the presence of a painting of Mary Queen of 
Scots (;f 21), and another picture of Queen Mary, of equal 
value, which was doubtless the luckless Stuart, and not the 
wife of the Prince of Orange. Governor Gordon's taste 
in art, however, ran to the Dutch school. He owned two 
Dutch pictures, five "landskips," two sea-pieces, a fiower- 

92 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

piece and "an old woman frying pancakes " ; besides these 
there were two small gilt-frame pictures, four small pic- 
tures, and some family pictures. His own portrait, in oils, 
also adorned the walls. The paintings were valued at j^io^. 

The governor's few books were valued at only j[io; 
his wearing apparel at ;f 142-2-6. He had an exception- 
ally well stocked wine cellar. The silver plate weighed 
1053 oz., 15 dwt., which at 117 pence per ounce, 
amounted to nearly ;^5i4- Thirty-two china dishes, one 
china bason and 128 plates, worth ;^i 93-9-0, other china 
to the value of ;£^20, much glass, including twenty 
decanters and cruets, and a lot of earthenware and cutlery, 
constituted the table service. The kitchen stuff and cook- 
ing vessels and utensils were plentiful. Table and bed 
linen amounted to ^^81-4-1. 

The beds are deserving of special notice on account of 
the variety in their furnishings. The wood of which they 
were made is not stated, but the weight of some of the 
feather beds, bolsters and pillows is, and therefore we learn 
that feather bedding varied in price from two shillings 
and three pence to three shillings per pound. The weights 
given are 36, 37, 45, 48, 50, 51, 60, and 72 pounds re- 
spectively. The furnishings included: bedstead with 
calico curtains, ;^6-5-o; bedstead, ^^'2-3-0; mohair bed 
and silk curtains, ;^ 13-5-0; fustian wrought bed, ^^'9- 
lo-o; bedvStead and curtains, ;^3-i9-o; bedstead, j(" 1-7-6; 
bedstead and seersucker curtains ^^4; and bedstead and 
green curtains, j^2-i6-o. Four bedsteads seein to have 
had no curtains at all. Two mattresses are appraised at 
j[2-\o-o. Three blankets and one quilt were the allow- 
ance for most of the beds. The total value of the gov- 
ernor's goods and chattels was nearly j^20oo. 

93 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



James Logan, an exceedingly wealthy and cultured man, 
built Stentoriy on the Germantown Road, in 1727-8. 

Half of the front of the house to the second story was 
taken up by one large, finely-lighted room, the library of 
the book-loving masters of the place. This remarkably 




A TABLE 
The date of this is uncertain The pierced escutcheons, if original, fix it at about 1760, however. 



interesting collection of books was bequeathed to the city 
of Philadelphia by Mr. Logan, who also contributed the 
Springettsbury property (a bequest from the Penn estate), 
as an endowment. 

The accompanying illustration shows a walnut table 
from Stenton which is one of those specified in the in- 
ventory. It is a good example of the period. It has two 

94 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

drawers with brajK handles and key-plates. This table is 
now owned by the Philadelphia Library. 

That Mr. Logan was a man of taste as well as wealth 
is evident from the harmony of colouring aimed at in his 
yellow bed-room with its maple furnishings. His ample 
hall served its old purpose as a reception room, though 
in the new houses that were being built there was a grow- 
ing tendency to suppress the hall as a separate apartment 
for living and receptions; it was becoming merely the 
entry, out of which other rooms opened. Little by little 
beds, couches and settees were banished from halls to other 
apartments. Most noticeable of all, however, is the fact 
that among all Mr. Logan's possessions not a single piece of 
mahogany is mentioned. Except for the lack of carpets and 
pictures, the furniture and its disposition seem almost 
entirely modern. 

The home of a wealthy Pennsylvanian of the middle 
of the eighteenth century presents a marked contrast with 
that of a plantation in Virginia and the Carolinas. Servants 
slept at the top of the house. 

The illustration facing page i oo shows varieties of chairs 
common during this period. The chair on the left is ex- 
ceedingly plain. The reading-desk is of walnut. It can 
be adjusted at any height to suit the comfort of the reader 
by turning on the screw support. A lid opens into the in- 
terior in which papers were kept. The central pillar 
terminates in a burning torch and the legs end in the fa- 
vourite ball and claw feet. This desk belonged to Hon. 
John Dickinson, the publicist, and these specimens are 
preserved in the Philadelphia Library. 

Besides household furniture, the old records occasionally 
afford a glimpse of the furniture used in churches, colleges 

95 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and court-houses. This was sometimes imported, but fre- 
quently made by local joiners. At the vestry meeting of 
St. Paul's parish, Kent County, Md., April 6, 1702, it was 
resolved " that Mr. Elias King do provide Linnen for the 
Communion: one table cloth and two napkins," — that the 
clerk write a note to Colonel Hynson to request him to 
order his "Joyner to make a Communion Table four feet 
square, with a drawer underneath to put the Church Books 
in, and to make it of black walnut." Again on June i, 
1703, " Eliner Smith this day was pleased to present the 
Church with a pulpit cloth and a cushion. Mr. Giles Bond 
also is requested to provide a chest to put the Pulpit cloth. 
Cushion and Church Books in, and Colonel Hans Hanson is 
empowered to agree with Jacob Young to alter the Pulpit 
door and Staircase Rails and fit it for to hang the pulpit 
cloth." 

The illustration shows a chair and communion table 
and service belonging to the early part of the century. 
They are from Donegal, Lancaster County, Pa., and date 
from 1722. The table and chair are both common types in 
use in England and the colonies during the seventeenth and 
early eighteenth centuries, and were to be found in any 
ordinary house: there is nothing distinctively ecclesiastical 
about them. They could easily be made by a native joiner. 
The silver communion cups are also plain and severe. 

From the inventories of the period we may gain a good 
idea of the appearance the early Philadelphia homes 
presented. Carpets were not in common use until the middle 
of the eighteenth century. We are told that the floors 
were sanded and that the sand-man went his rounds regu- 
larly and that the housewives or servants sprinkled the sand 
on the floor through a sieve or arranged it in patterns with 

96 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

deft turns of the broom. The walls were whitewashed 
until about 1745, when we find one Charles Hargrave ad- 
vertising wall-paper, and a little later Peter Fleeson manu- 
facturing paper-hangings and />^//»/Vr-w^/f^^ mouldings at the 
corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets. 

Franklin invented the open stove known by his name. 




A CHAIR AND COMMUNION TABLE 

There is nothing ecclesiastically distinctive about these pieces. The silver communion cups are 
alto plain and severe. 



in 1742, which was greatly preferred to the German stove 
made by Christopher Sauer in Ciermantown. 

The following letter from Franklin shows that he 
was anxious for Mrs. Franklin to have some of the latest 
London styles. This letter is dated London, 1 9 February, 
1758, and says: 

I send you by Captain Budden ... six coarse 
diaper breakfast cloths ; they are to spread on the 
tea table, for nobody breakfasts here on the naked 



97 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

table, but on the cloth they set a large tea board with 
the cups. . . . 

In the great case, besides the little box, is con- 
tained some carpeting for the best room floor. There 
is enough for one large or two small ones ; it is to 
be sewed together, the edges being first felled down, 
and care taken to make the figures meet exactly ; 
there is bordering for the same. This was my fancy. 
Also two large fine Flanders bedticks, and two pair 
of large superfine blankets, two fine damask table- 
cloths and napkins, and forty-three ells of Ghentish 
sheeting from Holland. These you ordered. There 
are also fifty-six yards of cotton, printed curi- 
ously from copper plates, a new invention, to make 
bed and window curtains ; and seven yards of chair 
bottoms, printed in the same way, very neat. This 
was my fancy ; but Mrs, Stevenson tells me I did 
wrong not to buy both of the same colour. . . . 
There are also snuffers, a snuflFstand, and extinguish- 
er, of steel, which I send for the beauty of workman- 
ship. The extinguisher is for spermaceti candles 
only, and is of a new contrivance, to preserve the 
snufFupon the candle. . . , 

I forgot to mention another of my fancyings, 
viz., a pair of silk blankets, very fine. They are of 
a new kind, were just taken in a French prize, and 
such were never seen in England before. They are 
called blankets, but I think they will be very neat 
to cover a summer bed, instead of a quilt or 
counterpane. . . . 

I hope Sally applies herself closely to her French 
and music, and that I shall find she has made 
great proficiency. The harpsichord I was aboutj 
and which was to have cost me forty guineas, Mr 
Stanley advises me not to buy ; and we are looking 
out for another, one that has been some time m use, 

9» 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and is a tried good one, there being not so much 
dependence on a new one, though made by the best 
hands. 

On this page are shown two chairs owned by the 
Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The one to the right 
is of the early Chippendale school, with gracefully pierced 




TWO EFFECTIVE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY CHAIRS 

To the left !« an annchair with turned legs, straining-pieces and balusters. The chair to the right 
it bandy-legged, with claw feet. The delicacy of the carving suggests Chippendale's simpler work. 

and carved jar-shaped splat and cabriole legs with eagle 
claw and ball foot and carved shell in the middle of the 
front rail. The other chair, with legs and rails of turned 
bead-work, belonged to Thomas Lawrence, who was several 
times mayor and councillor, from 1728 onward. 

The examples already given show that though many of 

99 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the prosperous class during the first half of the century 
clung to a certain severity in their homes, yet "Quaker 
simplicity " was by no means universal, and elegance and 
fashion had many devotees. Skilful upholsterers and carv- 
ers and gilders found plenty to do in Pennsylvania as in the 
South. Two or three advertisements from the American 
Weekly Messenger will show that it was considered worth 
while informing the public where the latest fashions in 
furniture were obtainable. 

March 20, 1729. 

Peter Baynton, Front Street, has very good red 
leather chairs, the newest fashion, and sundry other 
European goods for sale. 

June 8, 1732. 

Jno. Adams, Upholsterer, lately arrived from 
London, living in Front Street . . . makes and 
sells all sorts of upholstered goods, viz., beds and 
bedding, easy chairs, settees, squabs and couches, 
window-seat cushions, Russia leather chairs . . . 
at reasonable prices. 

Oct. 31, 1734. 

Next door to Caleb Ransteed's in Market Street, 
Philadelphia, all sorts of Opholsterers' work is per- 
formed, viz., beds after the most fashionable and 
plain way to take off the woodwork, settee beds, and 
easie chair beds, commodious for lower rooms (models 
of which may be seen), field beds, pallet beds, cur- 
tains for coaches, easie chairs, cushions, etc. reason- 
able and with expedition by William Atlee. 

N. B. Any person willing to have a bed stand 
in an alcove, which is both warm and handsom, may 
have the same hung and finished in the most ele- 
gant manner customary in the best houses in Eng- 
land. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




TWO EIGHTEENTH CENTURY CHAIRS 
The chair to the left has a rush seat. The armchair on the right has bandy legs and claw feet. 



Peter Petridge, screen-maker, in 175 1 was doing busi- 
ness at the sign of the " Half Moon," opposite Jersey 
Market. Thomas Lawrence, upholsterer, was on Second 
street opposite Church Alley with the sign of " The Tent," 
and Samuel Williams, a joiner on Walnut street, summed 
up the whole of life in his sign "Cradle and Coffin." In 
1756 the sign of the " Royal Bed " hung out at the corner 
of Second and Chestnut street, where Edward Weyman was 
settled; the "Crown and Cushion" could be seen swing- 
ing on Front and Chestnut street, where James White and 
Thomas Lawrence, upholsterers, conducted business ; and 
John Elliott took his orders at the ** Bell and Looking- 
Glass" on Chestnut street. The " Crown and Cushion" was 
next door to the London Coffee House in 1762, and Blanche 



lot 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

White, possibly the widow of James White, managed the 
business. Ben Randolph, "carving, cabinet ware and wooden 
buttons," swings the " Golden Eagle " in 1 765 ; and George 
Ritchie, upholsterer, is established at Front street, below 
Arch, at the "Crown and Tassel." In 1768 Thomas Af- 
fleck is a cabinet-maker on Second street, and Robert Moon 
is a ** chair and cabinet-maker " on Front street. 

The plate on page loi shows two chairs, one of 1700, 
with plain splat, high back, rush bottom and turned rails 
and front legs with fluted feet. The other shows the 
Dutch cabriole leg and bird's claw and ball foot with plain 
arms. The splat has been padded and covered, and there- 
fore its ornamentation can only be surmised. These speci- 
mens are owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 

Among the clockmakers of Philadelphia were Augus- 
tine Neisser, a native of Moravia, who emigrated to Georgia 
in 1736 and removed to Germantown in 1739. All of his 
clocks bear his name, but no date on the dial. Edward 
Duffield, born in Philadelphia County in 1720, made much 
apparatus for Franklin. He was a clock- and watchmaker 
from 1741 to 1747 in Philadelphia, and removed to Lower 
Dublin, Philadelphia County. David Rittenhouse, a fa- 
mous clockmaker, laboured from 1751 till 1777 at Norriton 
and Philadelphia. Ephraim Clark made timepieces at the 
southwest corner of Front and Market streets and was suc- 
ceeded by his son, Benjamin, in 1792. 

The Rittenhouse astronomical clock constructed for 
Joseph Potts, who paid $640 for it, was bought by Thomas 
Prior in 1776. General Howe wanted to purchase it and 
the ambassador of Spain also tried to buy it for the King of 
Spain. It became the property of G. W. Childs and is 
now in the Memorial Hail, Philadelphia. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

It has been shown that mahogany was known in Phila- 
delphia before 1708, but its spread was very slow. Chests 
of drawers and tables occasionally occur during the next ten 
years, but chairs are exceedingly scarce till the middle of 
the century. Even by the native makers, however, ma- 
hogany must have been used in cabinetwork before 1722, 
for in that year when Jonathan Dickinson, merchant, died 
he had mahogany furniture in his house and in his store, 
where he also had on sale a lot of mahogany planks. 

So many examples of richly hung beds have been given 
that it is scarcely necessary to dwell further on their im- 
portance. The immigrants all seem to have wanted a 
feather bed, and sometimes the demand seems to have ex- 
hausted the supply. In 1725, a new arrival, Robert Parke, 
writing to Mary Valentine in Ireland about coming out, 
says : " Feather beds are not to be had here and not to be 
had for money." At the close of our period, on the eve of 
the Revolution, Alexander Mackraby visited Philadelphia. 
Writing to his uncle, Sir Philip Francis (the reputed yuri/us), 
on January 20, 1768, he says: "I could hardly find my- 
self out this morning in a most elegant crimson silk damask 
bed." This was on a visit to Dr. Franklin's son. 

Much attention was paid in many cases to the decorat- 
ive effect of the furniture and hangings; the bedrooms 
especially were often limited to one prevailing hue. The 
Red, Yellow, or Blue Room is constantly met with, and 
numerous instances occur in which the bed and window cur- 
tains matched. Harmony in colour and arrangement was 
frequently sought in homes of moderate means as well as 
in splendid mansions. Views on this subject are expressed 
by a certain Miss Sarah Eve, who kept a journal in 1773. 

" Feb. 1 oth. We slept into Mrs. Parish's for a moment 

103 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and then went to Mrs. Stretch's. We were much pleased 
with our visit and her new house : the neatness and pro- 
portions of the furniture corresponding so well with the 
size of the house, that here one may see elegance in minia- 
ture. I don't mean the elegance of a palace, but of simpli- 
city, which is preferable — the one pleases the eye but 
flatters the vanity, the other pleases the judgment and 
cherishes nature. As I walked through this home I could 
not help saying this surely might be taken for the habita- 
tion of Happiness." 

It is also interesting to note that a century and a quar- 
ter ago William Penn already belonged to ancient history 
in the eyes of Miss Eve, for on May 6th she writes: 

" Mrs. Bunton that lives here showed us some furniture 
which might really be termed relicks of antiquity, which 
belonged to William Penn ; they purchased the clock which 
it was said struck one just before William Penn died ; what 
makes this remarkable is that it had not struck for some 
years before." 

During the years that have elapsed between the 
letter quoted from Franklin to his wife and the follow- 
ing correspondence, one may note the steady advance of 
luxury in his home. Mrs. Franklin, writing to her hus- 
band (again in London), in 1765, thus describes the home: 

In the room down stairs is the sideboard, which 
is very handsome and plain, with two tables made to 
suit it, and a dozen of chairs also. The chairs are 
plain horsehair, and look as well as Paduasoy, and 
are admired by all. The little south room I have 
papered, as the walls were much soiled. In this room 
is a carpet I bought cheap for its goodness, and 
nearly new. The large carpet is in the blue room. 

104 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

In the parlour is a Scotch carpet, which has had 
much fault found with it. Your time-piece stands 
in one corner, which is, I am told, all wrong — but I 
say, we shall have all these as they should be, when 
you come home. If you could meet with a Turkey 
carpet, I should like it ; but if not, I should be very 
easy, for as to these things, I have become quite in- 
different at this time. In the north room where we 
sit, we have a small Scotch carpet — the small book- 
case — brother John's picture, and one of the King 
and Queen. In the room for our friends, we have 
the Harl of Bute hung up and a glass. May I de- 
sire you to remember the drinking glasses and a 
large table cloth or two; also a pair of silver cannls- 
ters. The closet doors in your room have been 
framed for glasses, unknown to me ; I shall send 
you an account of the panes required. I shall also 
send the measures of the fireplaces, and the pier of 
glass. The chimneys do well, and I have baked 
in the oven, and found it is good. The room we 
call yours has in it a desk — the harmonica made 
like a desk — a large chest with all the writings 
— the boxes of glasses for music, and for the elec- 
tricity, and all your clothes. The pictures are not 
put up, as I do not like to drive nails lest they 
should not be right. The Blue room has the har- 
monica and the harpsichord, the gilt sconce, a card 
table, a set of tea china, the worked chairs and screen 
— a very handsome stand for the tea kettle to stand 
on, and the ornamental china. The paper of this 
room has lost much of its bloom by pasting up. The 
curtains are not yet made. The south room is my 
sleeping room with my Susannah, — where we have 
a bed without curtains, — a chest of drawers, a table, 
a glass, and old black walnut chairs and some of our 
family pictures. Sally has the south room up two 

105 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

pair of stairs, having therein a bed, bureau, table, 
glass, and the picture — a trunk and books — but 
these you can't have any notion of. 

Writing to his wife from London, June 22, 1767, he 
says : 

I suppose the room is too blue, the wood being 
of the same colour with the paper, and so looks too 
dark. I would have you finish it as soon as you 
can, thus : paint the wainscot a dead white ; paper 
the walls blue, and tack the gilt border round just 
above the surbase and under the cornice. If the 
paper is not equally coloured when pasted on, let it 
be brushed over again with the same colour, and let 
the papier mache musical figures be tacked to the 
middle of the ceiling. When this is done, I think 
it will look very well. 

An unusually interesting chair is one that belonged tc 
Benjamin Franklin, and is now used by the President of 
the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia. It was 
invented by Franklin, and, as shown facing page 108, the 
seat turns up and forms a small flight of steps. Franklin 
used it in his library to reach his books on the top shelves. 
The seat, back and arms are covered with brown leather 
fastened with brass studs; the wood is walnut. 

Franklin's clock, represented in plate facing page 146, 
is of a very early type. It difi^ers very slightly from the 
one owned by William Hudson, and mentioned on page 
84. The brasses around the dial are very delicate. 

We are now on the threshold of the Revolution, whose 
flres were to be fatal to so much of the old furniture. One 
of the first noticeable efl^ects of the outbreak was the dis- 
crediting and banishment of the tea equipage. Judge 
Shippen writing to his father, April 20, 1775, tells him: 

106 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Peggy has searched every shop in town for a 
blue and white china coffee pot, but no such thing 
is to be had, nor indeed any other sort than can be 
called handsome. Since the disuse of tea great 
numbers of people have been endeavouring to supply 
themselves with coffee pots. My brother, having 
no silver one, has taken pains to get a china one, 
but without success. 

The importations having ceased, the native furniture- 
makers naturally hastened to reap their harvest. War 
prices prevailed and the usual excuses of course were offered. 
To his brother-in-law, Jasper Yeates, the judge writes, 
January 19, 1776 : 

I enclose you the bill for your settee and chair 
which Mr. Fleeson thought it necessary to accom- 
pany with an apology on account of its being much 
higher than he gave Mrs. Shippen reason to expect 
it would be ; he says every material which he has 
occasion to buy is raised in its price from its scarcity 
and the prevailing exorbitance of the storekeepers. 

The chair and card-table, shown in the following 
illustration, belonged to the Hon. Jasper Yeates, mentioned 
above, who was Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of 
Pennsylvania from 1791 till his death in 18 17. He died 
in Lancaster, where he settled about 1774. Both pieces 
are of walnut. The chair is Dutch in character, squat in 
appearance and with cabriole legs with claw and ball feet, 
and shell ornaments. The splat is perforated at the base 
and pierced by two tiers of four slits separated by a curved 
mullion, repeating the Gothic window effect. The arms 
terminate in scrolls tightly rolled outward with bulging 
front supports. The front legs are plain cabriole with 
eagle claw and ball feet; the back legs are square all the 

107 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

way down. The centre of the top of the back and of the 
front rail are ornamented with a carved shell. 

The folding card-table has also cabriole legs with eagle 
claw and ball feet. It has a drawer with brass handle and 




CHAIR AND CARD-TABLE 

Formerly owned by the Hon. Jasper Yeates, Lancaster, Pa. Now in the possession of Dr. John H. 
Brinton, Philadelphia. 

a pool for counters at each side in the centre and a flat 
depression at each corner for candlesticks. These two 
pieces of furniture are now owned by Dr. John H. Brinton, 
of Philadelphia, the great-grandson of Jasper Yeates. 

Here, then, we pause, reserving the history of Philadel- 
phia furniture in the Revolutionary days for a future chapter. 

SOUTH CAROLINA, VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND TO 1 7/6 

THE condition of the houses of South Carolina, early in 
the eighteenth century, is described in somewhat un- 
flattering terms by Hewit, who wrote half a century later. 
The weak proprietary government was held responsible for 

108 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

all the evils, and prosperity is said to have dawned only 
on the transfer of the colony to the Crown. Sir Alexander 
Gumming was sent out as governor in 1730, and concluded 
a treaty of alliance with the Cherokees. The colony now 
being secure, the English merchants established houses in 
Charleston and imported slaves. Simultaneously their 
homes began to reflect in articles of comfort, luxury and 
pleasure the changed economic conditions. British manu- 
factures for the plantations were introduced, land rose in 
value, and the planters were so successful that in a few 
years the produce of the colony was doubled. 

It is admitted that Nature smiled and the planters got 
rich easily : the records prove also that they demanded and 
obtained a very considerable degree of luxury. In 1731 
Charleston contained between 500 and 600 houses, '* most 
of which are very costly." In that year, also, *• a skilful 
carpenter is not ashamed to demand thirty shillings a day 
besides his diet ; the common wages of a workman is 
twenty shillings a day provided he speaks English." The 
fact is, the wealth of the Southern planters increased so 
rapidly that many of their houses showed a degree of 
luxury unsurpassed by the London merchants. Personal 
estates of from ^^500 to ^^'5,000 are found by the hundred, 
and in many cases the personal property runs into many 
thousands. The Landgrave Joseph Morton is a good type 
of the Carolina planter of the early eighteenth century. 

The inventory of his estate, March 7, 1723, is as follows: 
TooBooDOE Plantation. 

£ s. d. 

Furniture in the best chamber . . 195-0-0 

Do dining room . 126-0-0 

Do little chamber within the 

dining room . . 22-0-0 

109 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



Do 


long chamber . 


£ s. d. 
85-0-0 


Do 


little parlour . 


66-0-0 


Do 


hall 


52-0-0 


Do 


parlour . 


135-0-0. 


Do 


chamber within t\ 


le par- 




lour 


45-0-0 


The library 


. 


1 50-0-0 


Linen 


. 


2 1 7-0-0 


Pewter 


. 


50-0-0 


Arms 


. 


70-0-0 


Plate 


. 


600-0-0 


Gold Watch anc 


. silver do 


150-0-0 


Cash and bonds 




5000-0-0 


Cattle &c 




1 400-0-0 


Tools &c 


. 


150-0-0 


Fifty negroes . 


. 


7250-0-0 
/ 1 5763-0-0 


Bear Bluff Plantation 


4459-0-0 



Mr. Morton was by no means an exception. Among 
many other rich men were: Thomas Grimball, ^^6,700; 
Richard Beresford, ^15,000, 1722; Thomas Dayton, 
^'23,000, and John Laroche, ^'12,400, 1724; Daniel 
Gale, ^'5,600, 1725 ; Captain Robert Cox, ^8,100, 1727; 
Captain Henry Nicholas, ^^20,000, and George Smith, 
j^35,ooo, 1730; John Raven, ^^3 1,800, 1734; Andrew 
Allen, ^^26,000, 1735, the Hon. A. Middleton, ^25,000, 
1738; Edward Hext, ^33,000, 1742; Hon. John Colleton, 
^39,000, 1751 ; and Peter Porcher, ^22,800, 1754. 

Two or three lists of the possessions of people of various 
grades of prosperity will show that comfort and even ele- 
gance were by no means elemental in these early years. 
Nathaniel Wilkinson in 171 i left a personality amount- 
^^S ^^ £^ySS7~'^~^' Among his household goods we find 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



I silver tankard 28 oz at 7/6 . 




lO-IO-O 


6 silver spoons 

12 cane chairs and couch . 




3-15-0 

8-0-0 


I large cedar table . 




2-10-0 


2 small ditto .... 




1-0-0 


I chest of drawers, dressing table and 


glass 


7-0-0 


I bed, etc 




8-0-0 


I pr iron dogs 

I set of brasses for the chimney 




I-O-O 
l-IO-O 



The above furniture, if scanty, is at least genteel. 
Other inventories of this period by no means reflect the 
hardships of the pioneer. 

Daniel Gale was a wealthier planter, his personality 
being valued at ^5,611-15-0 in 1725. His house con- 
tained eight rooms in addition to the kitchen, extension 
and other offices. On the ground floor were two living- 
rooms and a bedroom. The latter contained a bed and its 
furnishings, including three counterpanes valued at j(^6o; 
a chest of drawers {£15)'* ^ looking-glass (£15) I six 
black chairs (^fi-io-o); an easy -chair (^i-i 0-0) ; a table 
(five shillings); fire-irons, etc. (;f 5) ; glass- and earthen- 
ware (j[i); and a Bible and other books {£$)- T^^^ room 
which was probably the dining-room had twelve cane chairs 
and a couch valued at ;^2o; a corner cupboard (^^2) ; a tea- 
table and china tea-set (^^3); fire-irons, etc. (^^4); and a 
small chimney-piece picture (^^2). In another downstairs 
room stood a table and six black chairs valued at ^^3-1 0-0; 
and in the fourth a cedar table and six chairs worth 
^^7-10-0. In one of the upper rooms we find a bed 
worth jf 100; two looking-glasses, one valued at ^8 and 
the larger one at;^35; a table, eight chairs, two arm-chairs 
and a couch worth jf 40 ; a bufl^et and chinaware (^^ 50) ; 



III 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

fire-irons and -dogs (^'4) ; brass and irons {^£2) ; and a 
double sliding candlestick (j[s). Another upstairs room 
contains a bed and its furniture worth j[6o ; a chest of 
drawers (;^2o); eighteen pairs of sheets (^120); a table 
and six chairs (^'12); a small looking-glass {j[2); a hand 
tea-table, bowls and cups (j£s) i ^^^^ fire-irons (j[2). In 
the third room we find a bed worth j^ioo; a table and 
six cane chairs valued at j[i2; and a looking-glass (j[s)' 
The fourth room has a bedstead with its furniture worth 
j£4o; twelve leather chairs and a table valued at j[iS'y 
two pictures (j[s) ; and a hammock and pavilion (;^5). A 
fifth upstairs room, probably a garret, contained a bedstead 
and three pavilions (^32) ; a cedar table (^^5) ; and other 
household goods. 

The rooms did not often have any special character before 
1720, though the bed was gradually disappearing from the 
hall. The dining-room and the sitting-room were much 
alike in the arrangement of their furniture, and the sleep- 
ing-rooms much resembled them, with the addition of a bed. 
As the owner was usually a merchant as well as a planter, 
one of the lower rooms was used as his office. 

The greater part of this furniture was brought to 
Charleston direct from England. Charleston had "no trade 
with any part of Europe except Great Britain, unless our 
sending rice to Lisbon may be called so," says Governor 
Glen in 1748. 

A handsome chair of the early part of the century is 
shown on page 113. The top rail is carved with a graceful 
design of the bell-fiower in low relief. The splat is open. 
The legs are square. This chair belonged to Lord Dun- 
more, the last colonial governor of Virginia. It is preserved 
in the house of the Colonial Dames, Baltimore, Md., and 
belongs to Miss Elizabeth Cary Nicholas, having been 

£22 




DRESSING-GLASS AND CHEST OF DRAWERS 

S^e page i^6. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

purchased by her ancestor Judge Philip Norbonne Nicholas 
at the sale of Lord Dunmore's effects. 

As a typical example of a comfortable Marylander in 1 7 1 8, 
we may take Major Josiah Wilson, of Prince George County. 
His personality amounted to ^'1,178- 1 5-i>^ . The hall con- 
tained only ten " rushy " leather chairs, a large looking-glass, a 




LORD DUNMORE S CHAIR 

clock-case, three tin sconces, two pairs of iron dogs, tongs and 
shovels, and some earthenware " on the mantle press and 
hanging shelves." 

"In the parlour" was a bed with its furnishings, a chest 
of drawers, three rush-bottomed cane chairs, a small dress- 
ing-glass, fire-irons, earthenware on the mantelpiece, and 
three plain trunks. 

"3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The dining-room contained eight "rushy" leather chairs, 
three small tables, a broken looking-glass, a dilapidated 
couch, a press, a pair of iron dogs, and some articles on the 
mantelpiece and hanging shelves valued at twelve shillings. 

The " hall chamber " contained four rush-bottomed 
chairs, a chest of drawers and two beds. 

** In the porch chamber " were four rush and one cane 
chair, a bed and furniture, a looking-glass, a small table and 
a sealskin trunk. 

** In the dining-room chamber," twelve rush-bottomed 
and one cane chair, a bed with and another without furni- 
ture, a dressing-glass, a small chest of drawers, a small table, 
a tea-table and earthenware and an old chest. 

"In the kitchen chamber," two feather beds and fur- 
niture, two old flock beds, a looking-glass, a small chest of 
drawers and a pair of small tongs and shovel. 

**In the milkhouse" was earthen- and tinware. 

" In the kitchen " was a lot of pewter, a copper and 
four brass kettles, a stew-pan and eleven candlesticks also of 
brass, eleven small chafing-dishes, two bell-metal skillets, 
two warming-pans, two brass pestles and mortars, a bell- 
metal mortar, a copper pot, a jack, five spits, three box- 
irons, two gridirons, two pairs of tongs and shovels, two 
dripping-pans, one frying-pan, three iron pots, two small 
iron kettles, a pair of irons and dogs, five pairs of pot-racks, 
a parcel of books, three old guns and a hand-mill. 

The household linen consisted of twelve pairs of sheets ; 
six damask, four diaper and fifteen huckaback napkins; five 
linen pillow-cases ; four towels ; three damask, four linen 
and six huckaback table-cloths; and two damask table- 
covers. 

The above instance, however, is not fully represen- 

114 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tative of the most opulent class either in Maryland or Vir- 
ginia ; for there were many of the landed gentry who built 
fine mansions that have become historic and a few of 
which still exist. Hugh Jones, who gave his impressions 
of the country in The Present State of Virginia (London, 
1724), says: "The Gentlemen's Seats are of late built for 
the most part of good brick and many of timber, very hand- 
some, commodious, and capacious ; and likewise the com- 
mon planters live in pretty timber houses, neater than the 
farm-houses are generally in England: with timber also 
are built houses for the overseers and out-houses; among 
which is the kitchen apart from the dwelling-house, be- 
cause of the smell of hot victuals, offensive in hot weather." 

He also tells us that goods were brought to the colo- 
nies so quickly that new fashions arrived there even before 
they were received in the English country houses from 
London. 

During the first half of the century, were built or stand- 
ing such famous houses as Tuckahoe (Randolph), 1710; 
Rosewe// (P2.ge)y IVarner Hall (Lewis), Rosegill [WovmQX^y)^ 
fVestover (Byrd), S Air ley (Carter), Upper Brandon (Harri- 
son), Lower Brandon (Harrison), Boiling Hall (Boiling), 
Curies (Randolph), Powhatan s Seat (Mayo*, Belvoir (Fair- 
fax), Stratford (Lee), Doughreghan Manor (Carroll), Coroto- 
man (Carter), Mount Pleasant (Lee), Hampton (Ridgeley), 
Brooklandwood (Caton), Wye (Lloyd), Mount Airy (Cal- 
vert), The Hermitage (Tilghman), Belmont (Hanson), 
My Ladys Manor (Carroll), Montville (Aylett), fVhite 
Marsh (Tabb), Montrose (Marshall). No cost or care was 
spared to render their interiors comfortable and beautiful. 
Occasionally an early visitor gives us a glimpse of the 
apartments. One of the most amusing of these occurs in 

"5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

William Byrd's Progress to the Mines (1732): "Then 
I came into the main country road that leads from Freder- 
ickshurg to Germailna, which last place I reached in ten 
miles more. This famous town consists of Col. Spots- 
wood's enchanted castle on one side of the street, and a 
baker's dozen of ruinous tenements on the other, where 
so many CJerman families had dwelt some years ago. . . . 
Here I arrived about three o'clock, and found only Mrs. 
Spotswood at home, who received her old acquaintance 
with many a gracious smile. I was taken into a room 
elegantly set off with pier glasses, the largest of which 
came soon after to an odd misfortune. Amongst other 
favourite animals that cheered this lady's solitude, a brace 
of tame deer ran familiarly about the house, and one of 
them came to stare at me as a stranger. But unluckily 
spying his own figure in the glass, he made a spring over 
the tea table that stood under it, and shattered the glass to 
pieces, and falling back upon the tea table made a terrible 
fracas among the china. This exploit was so sudden, and 
accompanied with such a noise, that it surprised me, and 
perfectly frightened Mrs. Spotswood. But it was worth all 
the damage to show the moderation and good humour with 
which she bore the disaster." 

A still earlier contemporary picture of domestic condi- 
tions occurs in the Diary ofjo/m Fontaine^ quoted in the 
Virginia Historical Maga-zine (1895). After a visit to 
Beverly Parky in 171 5, Fontaine writes: 

June 14th. — The weather was very bad, and rained 
hard. We were very kindly received. We diverted 
ourselves within doors, and drank very heartily of 
wine of his own making which was good ; but I find 
by the taste of the wine that he did not understand 

116 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

how to make it. This man Hves well ; but though 
rich, he has nothing in or about his house but what 
is necessary. He hath good beds in his house but 
no curtains ; and instead of cane chairs, he hath stools 
made of wood. He lives upon the product of his 
land. 

For a complete view of the contents of one of the 
great houses we cannot dt) better than take the home of 
Robert Carter at Corotoman. 

"At the home plantation:" Seventeen Black Leather 
chairs, and two ditto stools, one large Table one " mid- 
dling ditto," and one small table, one Black walnut Desk 
and one black walnut corner cupboard and one large 
looking-glass are found in the "old house Dining-Room." 
In the Dining-Room besides china, cx^pper coffee-pots, 
candlesticks, chafing-dishes and glasses, there is mention of 
one "secrutore and one Bark Gamott Table." The 
"Chamber over the Dining-Room" is supplied with "four 
feather-beds, four bolsters, six pillows, four ruggs, one quilt, 
three prs Blanketts, one pr blew chaney curtains, vallens, 
Teaster and head-piece, one pr stamped cotton curtains, 
vallens, teaster and headp", one square Table, two high 
Bedsteads and one Trundle Bedstead, three cane chairs, 
five leather chairs, a dressing-glass, twelve Bed chaney chair 
cushions, one pr Iron Doggs, one pr Fire tongs, one 
shovel." 

In the lower chamber there were eleven leather chairs 
and one new one, four cane chairs and an arm-chair. 

The chamber over the lower chamber contained two 
high bedsteads, two black- walnut oval tables, large and 
small, a dresvsing-glass, five cane chairs and an arm-chair, 
iron dogs, fire-tongs and shovel, two pairs of white cotton 

117 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

window-curtains and valance. Each bedstead was furnished 
with a teaster; one had white cotton curtains, valance and 
headpiece, and the other a pair of " blew and white cotton 
and linen chex and vallens and white linen headpiece," 
while there were two feather-beds, two bolsters, four pil- 
lows, four quilts, four blankets and two rugs. 

The porch chamber contained a feather-bed, bolster, 
pillow, quilt, rug and a blanket, one pair "norch cotton 
curtains and Vallens lined with Searsucker and a Searsucker 
headpiece and teaster, six blew chaney chairs, one do. do. 
arm-chair." 

In the Brick House Chamber we find one standing bed- 
stead and one trundle-bedstead, six sets of seersucker bed- 
curtains, two bolsters, three pillows, two pairs of blankets 
and two quilts, two pairs of cotton window-curtains, a large 
black-walnut oval table, two small oval tables, "one glass 
Japp'd Scrutoire, one Jappan'd square small table, one 
India Skreen," a dressing-glass, "five blew silk Camlet 
chairs," one large looking-glass, a chest of drawers, a chair 
with a red leather seat, two brass candlesticks, a poker and 
fire-shovel and a pair broken andirons. 

In the chamber over the lower chamber there was a 
feather-bed, bolster, pillow, quilt and a pair of blankets, 
a trundle-bedstead, a desk, a chest of drawers, a dressing- 
glass, six chairs with "red leather seats, two stools with 
ditto," a small square black-walnut table, " a small oval 
ditto with red velvet on top," and one pair of handirons. 

In the Brick Store there was a black-walnut book-case, 
and in the "Chamber over ye Brick Store," "a surveying 
instrument, two cane chairs, one old leather ditto, a square 
table, a dressing-glass, a chest of drawers, two high bed- 
steads, a pair searsucker curtains, vallens and head cloths, 

ii8 






^v 




t— t 

< 
u 

Q 
< 

Q 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




DESK) DRESSING TABLE AND TWO CHAIRS 
These four pieces arc from Lafayette's rot)m, M.>unt Vernon. 

one pair blew and white cotton chex curtains and vallens, 
a pr stuff curtains and vallens, a pr stamped cotton cur- 
tains and vallens and head cloths, and a pair striped cotton 
curtains and vallens." 

In the Brick House Loft were seven trunks, seven old 
cane chairs, a bedstead, a small oval card-table, a black 
leather chair, a chair with a Russia-leather bottom, a nap- 
kin-press, a chest of drawers, a parcel of lumber, "a red 
chaney armchair," four '*old Turkey workt chairs, two 
skreens," and **a large oyle cloth to lay under a table." 

The kitchen had a full share of utensils, but no wooden 
furniture is mentioned. 

In the kitchen loft there was a feather-bed, with bolster, 
pillow, two blankets, rug and a pair of canvas sheets. 

On this page are shown specimens from ** Lafayette's 
Room" in Mount Vernon. The chair on the right is a 

119 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

very early specimen of mahogany, with plain square legs 
and straining-rails and peculiarly curved back and unpierced 
splat. The rockers are probably later additions. The 
mahogany desk and letter-case was a favorite form about 
the middle of the century. One advantage of this form 
was that it could be placed near the fire so that the writer 
might enjoy the warmth and be screened at the same time. 
The mahogany dressing-table on slender legs, with three 
tiers of drawers and looking-glass, is rather later in date. 
The painted chair is still later. 

We have already seen how extremely bare were the 
houses of the artisan class in the early days of the South. 
On examining many of the inventories we are forcibly 
reminded of Mr. Lear's lines: 

" In the middle of the woods 
Lived the Tonghy-Bonghy-Bo. 
One old chair and half a candle. 
One old jug without a handle, 
In the middle of the woods — 
These were all the worldly goods 
Of the Tonghy-Bonghy-Bo." 

Some authorities maintain that the lists of the deceased's 
effects were not exhaustive; but if that is so, we may ask 
why they were, drawn up at all. They would be valueless 
unless complete. Moreover, we have evidence that the 
appraisers usually did their work with scrupulous fidelity. 
At the period when it was unusual for the windows to be 
glazed, the panes of glass were measured and appraised. 
Articles of quite contemptible value, also, are frequently 
mentioned. "A sorry covelid" and **a parcel of old 
trumpery " are common items. An extreme example 
occurs among the possessions of George Rayes, 1699. The 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

appraisers could scarcely have been serious when they 
recorded ** i night cap nothing worth oo-oo-oo." 

In Thomas (Jadsden's inventory (1745) "an old cane 
black leather chair worth nothing " occurs. 

Our forefathers regarded their belongings with much 
affection; evidently the sentimental is far above the intrinsic 
value. In large families the household goods would often 
be almost entirely distributed among the children by specific 
legacies on the death of the owner. Nevertheless, when 
the younger generation bought furniture it would naturally 
be of the newest fashion, since anything old, not being a 
bequest, was regarded with disfavour. An ** old fashion " 
piece stood on the same level with one "damnified," and 
in the inventories is so recorded and reduced in value. 

T. Gadsden, 1741, has one "old fashion case of drawers 
inlaid with ivory, j[i." In the same inventory ^^'i is the 
stated value of two Windsor chairs ; of two straw-bottomed 
chairs and one old napkin ; of two sconce-arms, and of a 
bottle of Rhenish wine, respectively — which gives us some 
idea of the appraiser's lack of veneration for age. 

We have already seen how a rich planter of the seven- 
teenth century took his silver plate to London to have it 
melted down and made up again in the latest fashion. 
This difference in value between old and new is constantly 
in evidence. Thomas Gadsden, cited above, possessed 
"163 oz old plate, ^^"326 ; 282^ oz fashionable do., 
^^776-17-6; I tea kettle stand and lamp 67*/^ oz, ^'202- 
10-0; 2 canisters and sugar dish 29 oz, ^"72-10-0." The 
difference in value between the articles of the last two 
items might be due to the workmanship; but an arbitrary 
difference of about $3.75 per ounce between "old" and 
"fashionable" plate is very considerable. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The rage for the new partly accounts for the strange 
medley of styles and periods with which the homes were 
filled. As time passed on, the old furniture fell into decay, 
and, not being cherished, was relegated to the garret, the 
kitchen or the slaves' quarters, and the new reigned in its 
stead. It naturally follows that even if the South had not 
suffered so terribly in the Revolutionary and Civil wars 
from incendiarism, we should still expect to find specimens 
of seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century furni- 
ture exceedingly scarce. The same process occurred in 
England. When an exhibition of seventeenth-century furni- 
ture was in preparation in London a few years ago, very 
few specimens were discoverable in the ancient mansions 
and castles. It was in the cottages of the adjoining villages 
that many of the forgotten and despised tables, chairs, 
chests, etc., were found. 

Any relic from the home of one of the leaders in the 
Revolution is regarded with affectionate and pious reverence 
by his descendants. The mahogany secretary and chair 
facing this page are characteristic specimens of furniture of 
the period. The two jar-shaped splats and plain square legs 
are found in many examples of the cornered chair. The 
secretary is quite simple and unornamented. Both chair and 
desk belonged to Patrick Henry, whose bust stands on the 
desk, which still contains many of his papers. He died at 
Red Hill^ while sitting in this chair, in 1799. Both 
pieces are owned by his grandson, Mr. William Wirt 
Henry, of Richmond, V^a. 

As a rule the appraisers are content to mention the 
number of articles and the materials of which they are 
composed, adding the shape in the case of tables; but now 
and again we come across a stray detail of description for 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

which we are grateful. When this is the case, it is prob- 
ably because the fashion is new, or at least novel, to the 
appraiser. Thus when Maurice Lewis is found with " a 
small desk and drawer on casters, ^^8," we may conclude 
that casters were not yet common on furniture legs, and, 
indeed, this is the first instance I have found in South 
Carolina. Another instance of this kind is the claw-foot 




FOUR INTERESTING CHAIRS 

Chain in the River Ruom, Mount Vernun. The one next to the extreme right belonged to 
Benjamin Franklin. 

and ball, which probably came from the East through the 
Dutch. It would be sure to excite remark, but I have 
not found it in South Carolina before 1740, when Eliza- 
beth Greene has a ** claw-foot mahogany table, ^^4." The 
Chippendale period is but just beginning. 

It may be interesting to inquire how close the ap- 
praisal was to the value of the articles when sold by public 
auction, and the reply is that there was not that woful gap 
between price and value that saddens the householder to- 
day when his possessions are brought to the hammer. The 
records of South Carolina in 1747 show that the mahogany 

"3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

furniture of Sarah Saxby brought more than the appraisers 
thought it was worth. The two Usts are worth preserving. 







Public 




Appraisal 


Vendue 




i s. d. 


£ s. d. 


1 India cabinet frame 


I o-o-o 


24-0-0 


I cedar dressing table and glass 


I o-o-o 


f 1-7-6 
I 7-5-0 


1 small mahogany table 


4-10-0 


8-0-0 


I mahogany dressing table and 
glass .... 






15-0-0 


20-2-6 


I mahogany dressing table and 






glass . . 


12-0-0 


15-15-0 


I large mahogany table 


12-0-0 


15-0-0 


I small do do 


5-0-0 


7-10-0 


I mahogany couch 


5-0-0 


17-5-0 


I bed etc. 


30-0-0 


40-15-0 


I do ... . 


20-0-0 


40—0-0 


I mahogany sideboard 


7-0-0 


8-10-0 


I mahogany corner cupboard 


3-0-0 


4-12-6 


1 1 old chairs, matted bottoms 
and 1 easy leather chair 


I 0-0-0 


I 6-5-0 
\ 5-7-6 



On page 123 are shown chairs from the " River Room'* 
at Mount Vernon. The chair on the right is an early ex- 
ample of mahogany of the Chippendale school with ob- 
vious Dutch influence. It was in President Washington's 
house in Philadelphia, and is a good type of many chairs in 
use before the Revolution. The chair next to it belonged 
to Benjamin Franklin. It is rush-bottomed and the sup- 
ports of the low arms being set at diagonal corners gives it 
the effect of a three-cornered chair. The front leg is 
square and the three others turned ; the straining-rails cross 
each other diagonally. The two jar-shaped splats in the 



124 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

back are perforated. This style is not at all uncommon. One 
in possession of Patrick Henry is shown facing page 122. 

The third chair also belongs to this period. The ele- 
gance of the lines and the careful distribution of light 
and dark in the jar-shaped splat and outside space bounded 
by the frame show the hand of an artist of the Chippen- 
dale school. The cabriole leg, with eagle claw and ball 
foot, is less squat than usual ; the common shell ornament 
appears on the knee. The fourth chair is a Hepplewhite of 
later date. 

Some of the houses of the middle of the century con- 
tained a generous supply of china, glass and plate. The 
inventory of the goods and chattels of Joseph Wragg, Esq., 
although the total is only ^^2, 908- 17-6, shows an aston- 
ishing quantity of tableware of all kinds, including 561 
ounces three pennyweights of silver plate worth ^'1,139-1- 
6 ; three dozen knives and forks, j^'71 ; twenty-five enam- 
elled china bowls, ^^27-1 5-0; six flowered ditto, ^('0-15-0; 
five blue-and-white soup-dishes, ^^8 ; five other small 
blue-and-white dishes, ^'5-10-0; two small enamelled 
dishes, ;f 3 ; one small blue-and-white ditto, ^'0-15-0; 
forty-eight enamelled soup-plates, ^^20; fifteen blue-and- 
white ditto, JC6 ; seventeen butter-saucers, £2 ; coffee 
and tea china set, ^^5 ; a china jar, ^^i ; three sugar-dishes, 
^3 ; a china mug, £i ; three dishes, j^ i - 1 5 ; seven plates, 
£\-\o\ " Delf ware," ^^8 ; two pairs of port decanters 
with ground stoppers, ^{'3; six water-glasses, ^'0-15-0; 
forty-two tumblers, ^'3; 132 jelly- and syllabub-glasses, 
jf 5 ; ninety-six patty-pans, £2; twenty-three knives and 
forks, ^'5 ; seventy-two pewter plates and thirteen dishes, 
^^40; 104 wine-glasses, ^10; mustard-pots, salts, cruets, 
tea-kettle, beer-glasses, etc., ^'14-5-0. In addition to this 

125 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

he had much table-linen, including 114 damask napkins 
and eighteen diaper table-cloths. 

As illustrations of these dining-room appointments we 
cannot do better than take the wine-cooler, whiskey-bottle 
and dumb-waiter, silver cream-jug on a silver salver, copper 
tea-urn and wine-cup of Mr. Thomas Boiling, Richmond. 
The wine-cooler dates from the very end of our period ; 
it is of mahogany, brass-bound, and inlaid with satinwood. 
The bottle standing upon it, with a corn-cob stopper, has 
"Boiling, Cobbs 1772" blown in the glass. Both articles 
came from Cobbs^ Virginia, the residence of Thomas Boi- 
ling, a direct ancestor of the present owner. The dumb- 
waiter comes from Montville^ Virginia, the home of the 
Ayletts. The wine-cup is a piece of the old Randolph silver 
and bears their coat of arms and crest. The cream-jug, 
silver salver and copper urn belonged to the Boiling family. 

One diversion of the planter's life was gambling. In 
contemporary letters, the propensity of the ladies of 
the family to spend their days and nights playing loo is 
probably overdrawn ; but we have ample evidence of the 
excess to which playing was carried among the men. 
Bowls, shuffle-board, chess and cards were largely in- 
dulged in during the seventeenth century, and the efforts of 
the authorities to suppress gambling were futile. De Vries, 
an old Dutch captain who visited Jamestown in 1633, 
was astonished at finding the planters inveterate gamblers, 
even staking their servants. In his righteous indignation 
he protested he had ** never seen such work in Turkey or 
Barbery." The chief games were piquet, trump, lanterloo, 
ombre, hazard, basset, faro and ecarte. Early in the 
eighteenth century special tables were constructed for card 
games ; those for ombre were sometimes three-cornered, 

ia6 




I M"^ 





THREE MAHOGANY PIECES 

Eighteenth-century spoon-case, knife-box and teacaJJy. OzuneJ by Mrs. EJiuard fFillis, oj" Charleston, S. C. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

though the game allowed three, four or five players. They 
were often covered with green cloth. 

An early and handsome mahogany card-table facing page 
1 1 8, divides diagonally. The legs are rounded and straight, 
terminating in bird's claw and ball feet. The casters were 
probably added later. One leg draws out as a support for 
the leaf when raised. The chairs are of considerably later 
date, from Belleville. These specimens are owned by Mr. 
and Mrs. George W. Mayo, Richmond, Va. 

In 1 741 T. Gadsden (South Carolina) had a card-table 
covered with sealskin valued at ^'7-10-0. Many of the 
card-tables of the early eighteenth century, however, have 
plain polished surfaces. They usually have a folding top on 
a hinge, with a leg to draw out, such as the one facing page 
118. In many cases there is one pool or hollow at each 
corner for counters, as may be seen in the table belong- 
ing to Dr. Brinton on page 108. In 1727, we find "a 
parcel ot fish and counters, jf 4." The fish were of bone, 
ivory or mother-of-pearl, and the counters were round 
or oval. In ombre a fish was worth ten round counters. 
The card-tables brought into the South were quite expen- 
sive. If we look at a few examples from South Carolina, 
we find one belonging to S. Pickering in 1728 valued at 
£6 : a sum equal to that of three Dutch tables and a couch 
and squab combined in the same inventory. Other instances 
are: a fine walnut card-table, j^2o; a walnut do., £j; 
a card-table, ;^*io; ditto, ^^'6-1 0-0; a black frame ditto, 
;^2-io-o; and many others from ^i up. Dr. J. Gaultier 
possessed one quadrille-table (^^8), in 1746. Quadrille 
succeeded ombre in fashionable favour ; it was a modifi- 
cation of the old game that was supreme during the reigns 
of Anne and the first George. 

127 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Other games existed in the South at an early date, for 
in 1727 we tind a shuffle-board table and eight pieces worth 
j^'3-10-0; in 1733 J. Main, of South Carolina, owns a pair 
of backgammon-tables valued at ^8 and a truck-table, sticks 
and balls, worth no less than ^^90. The latter was a 
favourite old English game known as "lawn billiards," but 
its name was originally Spanish, — trucos or troco. In the 
centre of the green there was an iron ring moving on a 
pivot, and the object was to drive the ball through the 
ring. Backgammon-boards or -tables and checker-boards 
were very popular. To take a few early examples: J. 
Lewis had a madeira-table with "baggamon" tables worth 
^'15 in 1733; T. Somerville, two backgammon-tables 
(j^ii) in 1734; T. Gadsden a backgammon-board (;^4) 
in 1741 ; and in 1744 we find two checker-boards valued at 
£\. A Mississippi board also shows that this form of 
bagatelle was known quite early. 

Thus we are satisfied that the daughters of Virginia and 
her sister colonies were by no means forced to dwell 

" In some lone isU^ or distant Northern land^ 
IVhere the gilt chariot never marks the way^ 
Where none learn ombre ^ none e^er taste Bohea." 

Whether the ladies of the South drank much wine or 
not, they certainly drank a great deal of tea. Coffee and 
chocolate also were favourite fashionable beverages. The 
tea-table, and often more than one, stood in most parlours. 
It was smaller than the ordinary table and existed in all 
woods and shapes. The tea-service was always in readiness 
upon it. The table was generally covered with a small 
cloth or " toilet." The earliest examples seem to be the 
Dutch and japanned tables. The following are from South 

128 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



Carolina: A japanned hand tea-table {j[i)t 1722; two 
japanned tea-tables (;i4), a small square ditto (j[i), and a 
little round oak ditto (j^'o-io-o), 1723; a tea-table and 
china tea-set (^^15), 1724; a hand tea-table with bowls 
and cups {j[s}* ^7^5 y ♦^ parcel of tea-table ware (j^'14), 
1732; a tea-equipage 
(^*4), and two tea- 
tables with two toilets 

(/i5)» 17335 a round 
three-legged tea-table 
(j^io), 1738; a Dutch 
ditto (j^'i-io-o), 1740; 
a tea-table, china, a jar 
and stand (j^'io), 1741 ; 
a japanned tea-table 
with tea-service thereon 
(jf8), and a tea-table 
and china (^^lo), 1742 ; 
a mahogany tea-table 
(/6), 1745 ; one ditto 
and tea-board (£5) ; an 
oval stand tea-table 
(j[2); a madeira round 

tea-table (^^6); and an India tea-table (^f 12), 1746 ; a ma- 
hogany pedestal tea-table (j[())y 1754. In 1725, Dr. Wil- 
liam Crook owned a tea-table, forty-one dishes with saucers, 
and three basins, all china (^^3^^ '" many Southern 
houses these dishes, which are simple little bowls or cups 
without handles, have been preserved. 

Other articles connected with the preparation and ser- 
vice of tea are a mahogany tea-box (jCyio-o)^ 1736; a 
japanned tea-box with canisters (^^3), four mahogany tea- 

129 




WINDSOR ARM-CHAIR 

Arm-chair of a pattern introduced into America as early 
4S 1770, and fuUuwed many years without change j exact 
date uncertain. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

boards (^^'i-i o-o) ; a silver tea-kettle stand and lamp, weigh- 
ing 67^ ounces (^'202-10-0) ; a shagreen tea-chest with two 
canisters and sugar-dish, 29 ounces (^{'72-10-0) ; and a sha- 
green small case, twelve tea-spoons, a strainer and tongs 
(j^io), and a silver tea-kettle(^5o), 1742; a tea-chest and 
tea-board (j[s)y ^744 > ^ mahogany tea-tray (^0-18-4), 
and two japanned ditto (j^'o-6-8), 1745; a mahogany tea- 
chest (^2-10-0), two japanned tea-boards (^{"i-io-o), a ma- 
hogany tea-chest (^^i ), a large painted sugar-box (^i-io-o), 
and two mahogany tea-boards (^3-10-0), 1746; and a tea- 
kettle and lamp on a mahogany stand (X^)» ^75^- ^^ 
this date we are getting into the Chippendale period, when 
tea-chests, tea-trays, tables, etc., receive considerable atten- 
tion from the famous cabinet-makers. 

It was the correct thing to make the tea at the table, as 
the spirit-lamps show. The coffee, also, was frequently 
ground as well as infused at the table. 

The taste for china was as universal in the South as that 
for ombre and madeira. In 1722 Edward Arden possessed 
a cabinet and chinaware together worth ;^io; also a corner 
cupboard containing china, and two tea-tables (^16); then 
we have buffet and chinaware (^^50), D. Gale, 1725; china 
and glass (^'5 5), ditto on the scrutore (^'15), Hon. A. Mid- 
dleton, 1738; "china and glass in ye buffet" (£^), A. 
Skeene, 1741. In 1744, moreover, T. Oliver possesses a 
china-table (^^6). We frequently come across china on 
the mantelpiece also, so that by the aid of the latter, cabi- 
nets, tea-tables, china-tables, corner cupboards and buffets, 
the rooms were pretty liberally sprinkled with var'ieties of 
porcelain. That these were not merely intended for use is 
plain from many entries, a typical one of which is " a parcel of 
glass images, toys, etc." (^i-i 0-0), Anne Le Brasseur, 1742. 

130 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



This forcibly reminds us 
of the china monstrosities 
satirised in Hogarth's pic- 
tures of high life. 

The china services 
were often quite expen- 
sive. In 1733 J. Lewis 
has *' china ware" (;^32), 
and J. Satur's nine china 
plates are appraised at 
j^4-io. Anne Le Bras- 
seur (1742) has a large 
variety of china, including 
among other articles two 
large china dishes, ^^4; 
one large china bowl, ^^'4 ; 
a mahogany waiter with 
chinaware thereon, ^'2. 

The china, glass and 
earthenware belonging to ... 

^ ^ From Wathington s presidential maiuion — a duplicate 

T. Gadsden amounted to » « '*»« Hiitoncal society of Pennsylvania. See 

page 89. 

j^' 1 67- 1 -8; he also owned 

two baskets for china plates, valued at ten shillings. J. Mat- 
thews (1744) had china and glass worth j[^6; he also had 
six hot-water plates, valued at ^{'8 ; the latter were evidently 
comparatively new. Six years before this Edward Hext 
had owned the same number, then valued at j^' 10, which 
was the same price attributed to his dressing-table and 
glass, or his tea-table and china, in the same inventory. 

The plate, glass, cutlery, earthenware and all articles 
for use at meals show constantly increasing elegance as the 
century advances. Forks were coming into more general 

131 




CHAIR 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

use about 1700, and the choice kinds of knives as well as 
forks and spoons had handles of agate, silver and ivory. A 
few examples may be given of the amount of silver plate listed 
as "various," the number of ounces being usually stated. T. 
Grimball, j^'240-io-o, 1722; T. Rose, ^^208, 1733; T. 
Somerville, jCsS^y ^734' ^- Leacroft, ^^100, 1738; E. 
Greene, ^^336, 1740; T. Gadsden, ^^ 1,1 02-1 7-6, 1741 ; 
N. Serre, ^^'5 5 2-6-6, 1746; G. Heskett, ^^292-1 0-0; E. 
Fowler, ^^131-5-0; and the Hon. J. Colleton, ^929-10-0, 
1751. 

In Virginia and Maryland also the tables of the wealthy 
were bright with silver. Samuel Chew, of Ann Arundel 
County, whose personal estate in 171 8 was valued at 
j^'7,225-14-5, possessed "new plate, ^63-1-10, old plate, 
^'235-6-0." In 1728 Colonel Thomas Lee's house was 
robbed and burned, and the following advertisement in 
the Maryland Gazette, March 11, 1728, gives some idea of 
his family plate. This plate had on it the coat of arms or 
crest belonging to the name of Lee. 

** Stolen out of the house of Col. Thomas Lee, in Vir- 
ginia (some time before it was burnt), a considerable quan- 
tity of valuable plate, viz.. Two Caudle Cups, three pints 
each. One chocolate pot, one coffee pot. One Tea pot. 
Three Castors, Four Salts. A plate with the Cortius arms. 
A pint tumbler, ditto arms. Four candlesticks. One or two 
pint cans. A funnel for quart bottles, no arms on it. 
A pair of snuffers and stand, etc." 

The growing use of forks does not seem to have less- 
ened the necessity of napkins, which in the better class 
of houses were of damask and diaper, as were also the 
table-cloths. Damask was the most expensive. Huckaback 
and coarse linen napkins were also largely used. In South 

133 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Carolina we find Mary MulHns(i73o) with a damask table- 
cloth, £'jy and two table-cloths and twenty-four napkins, 
^^'36. The high price set on table-linen is more fully 
realized when we compare the above with one dozen 
leather-bottom chairs, ^^15, in the same inventory. Two 
years later S. Screven's nine table-cloths and thirty napkins 
are esteemed of equal value with his four tables, ten chairs, 
one chest and one looking-glass, ^^25-15-0. T. Gadsden 
(1741) had table-linen appraised at j^'68-2-6; and J. 
Matthews (1745) at ^^72. 

The shagreen cases in which the fine cutlery was kept 
were boxes, square or rounded in the front, about a foot 
high, with a lid sloping down toward the front. The in- 
terior was divided into as many little square partitions as 
there were articles to be contained ; into these the knives were 
put, handles up. The spoons were placed with the bowls 
up. Thus, rising one row above another on the slope, the 
chasing or other ornamentation was well displayed. The 
boxes were placed usually at each end of the sideboard- 
table or buffet, and the lids, of course, were left open when 
required, for often the open lids acted as rests for silver salvers. 
The shagreen cases, of course, took their name from the 
leather with which they were covered. They gradually 
became more ornate, and about the middle of the century 
the more expensive kinds were made of mahogany. In 
South Carolina a "mahogany knife-box" occurs in 1754. 
This is probably a production of the Chippendale school. 
The amount of time and labour expended on the finest 
specimens was prodigious. The boxes were carved, inlaid, 
and some had metal mountings. The great difficulties to 
be overcome consisted in the curves to which the veneers 
and inlays had to be subjected, thus demanding considerable 

m 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

mathematical knowledge on the part of the workman. 
This is especially the case with the urn-shaped cases which 
follow this period. 

Interesting specimens of the mahogany spoon-cases, 
tea-chest with caddies and knife-boxes, at the close of 
this period are owned by Mrs. Edward Willis of Charles- 
ton, S. C, and are shown in the plate facing page 1 30. 
The tea-chest has brass feet and mounts. The spoon- 
case is a very interesting specimen ; it stands about two 
feet high, and there is a delicate black-and-yellow in- 
lay running along the separate pieces of which it is com- 
posed. It is mounted with silver. The knife-box has 
also metal mounts, and the mouldings of the front show 
what careful workmanship was demanded. 

The sideboard-table, commonly used down to the 
Revolution, was simply a side-table. One of these, in- 
herited from Lawrence Washington, was in the dining- 
room at Mount Vernon It stood thirty-six inches high, and 
was five feet long and half as wide. It was made of black- 
walnut, with the edges and legs carved with the bell-flower 
and leaf ornamentation. In South Carolina, instances occur 
in several varieties of wood, cedar, "madera," walnut and 
mahogany, worth from ^^'6 to ^20, sometimes with and 
sometimes without drawers. The table was usually oblong, 
but occasionallv square. The "beaufait" or buffet also is 
frequently mentioned. In 1752 Paul Tenys had a mahog- 
any bufl^et, ;^ 20 ; china in and on it, j^ 25. The bufl^et 
gradually supplanted the sideboard, and finally stole its 
name. The sideboard was covered with a cloth of damask 
or diaper, and occasionally we find mention of other ma- 
terial. R. Wright (1747) had a "mahogany sideboard with 
green cover." 

134 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



Turning to the chairs, we first rind cane in all varieties. 
Some of these had wooden frames with cane in the seat, or 
back, or both. Others were evidently constructed of cane 
throughout. The prices varied surprisingly, evidently ac- 
cording to the carving and turning of the frames, as well as 
the age, condition, styles and 
sizes. In 171 i, twelve cane 
chairs and couch are appraised 
at j[S. Josiah Wilson (Mary- 
land) had three old rush-bot- 
tomed cane chairs appraised at 
thirteen shillings in 171 8. In 
the same year we find six cane 
chairs, "eighteen shillings," 
four cane ditto, jf 2-4-0. In 
Carolina we have six cane, 
j^'i-io-o; six cane, j[6-o-o 
(1722); six black cane and 
one elbow, ^^14 (1723); 
twelve fine cane and elbow, 
£25 (^724); eight cane with 
two cushions, ^^ i 5 ; and four- 
teen cane, ;(,30 (1725). 

Two years later, four black 
cane and u..^ ^Ibow chair are ^ chair owned by wiluam penn 

I I .• . , • i> 1 Sovi in the Penntylvauiia Hospital, Fhiladd- 

worth only ^,5. Captain Rob- phu. seepage (4. 

ert Cox in the same year had 

twenty old cane chairs at a pound each, and twelve new 

ones at thirty shillings. Major William Blazeway, also in 

1727, had six cane-back, j(,i2; six cane-bottom, ;iio; six 

with hue rush bottoms, ^.10; and nine old cane, j[^g. 

Twelve new cane, ;^i8, six cane-back, j^io, six cane- 

•35 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

bottom wooden-back, ^ i o, also occur in 1727; and, choicest 
of all, twelve walnut cane chairs and elbow chair, ^50 
( 1 73 1 ). The prices varied from five shillings to four pounds 
each in Carolina currency during one decade. 

In Glen's Answers to the Lords of Trade, he gives a 
table of the exports and imports of South Carolina for 
1748. The total is given as ^^ 1,1 25,960-3-1 1 currency, 
which equals ^161,365-18-0 sterling. Thus we must 
divide the South Carolina prices by seven, at that date, 
when comparing them with those of England. 

Cane was used with all kinds of wooden frames, and 
sometimes cane was employed throughout, the walnut frame 
being the most expensive. In 1733, John Lewis had six 
maple matted chairs, £6, six maple cane do., £,10, and one 
elbow do., j^3. In 1735, Andrew Allen owned twelve plain 
cane chairs, ;^2o; twelve do. and elbow do., ^^20; twenty- 
four flowered cane do. and elbow do., ;^5o; and seven old 
chairs, ^^3. In 1742, we find six high-backed black cane 
chairs (old), jC^. In the same year, Edward Hext pos- 
sessed twelve cane and one elbow, worth jf^ijy while his 
ten mahogany chairs are only valued at ;^20, and nineteen 
bass-bottomed at ^7-10-0. In 1745, six cane elbow 
chairs are set down at j^i6. In 1747, bass-bottomed cane 
chairs are mentioned. 

The walnut chair was made up in a variety of ways. 
In addition to those already mentioned, we find walnut 
matted, walnut and bottoms with red camlet covers, walnut 
with rush bottoms, leather bottoms, satin bottoms, silk 
damask covers, and red damask bottoms. 

The example of a chair of the period given here is now 
in the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. It is some- 
what heavy, but solid and handsome. It has a modified 

136 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



lyre-shaped splat pierced with slits like three lancet Gothic 

windows interlacing a square with curved sides, the base 

being pierced with a heart. The top of the back is rolled 

over at the corners 

and centre like a strap 

or scroll. The front 

legs are cabriole with 

shell ornamentation 

and claw-and-ball feet. 

The back legs are 

slightly curved and 

rounded. 

The Turkey-work 
chair is still in favour, 
and the common rush- 
bottomed and the 
choice Russia leather 
are found in large 
numbers. At this 
time the chairs known 
as the "black" and 
** white " also came in ; 
the former was worth 
about ten shillings. Its 
shape and workman- 
ship varied, for, in 

1725, we find " twenty-two new fashioned black chairs and 
two elbow" valued at ^^36, and twelve ordinary ones at 
jf6. In 1722, ten white (two low ones) were valued at £1. 
The bass-bottomed chair was general, and worth more 
than cither of the former: "six bass-bottomed chairs, £\** 
(1722). The bass was used with various frames. In 1723, 

>37 




EIGHTEENTH CENTURY CHAIR 

Chair by Thomas Chippendale or some close imitation of 
hit method. The carving ii very delicate. About 1760. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

a " carved wooden bass chair " was worth twenty-five shill- 
ings. In Carolina, the palmetto also was freely used. We find 
"eleven parmetaw chairs, ^^2-15-0" (1722); and "twelve 
black permato chairs, ^^8 " (1725). The "straw" chair 
was also esteemed. In 1727, seven "straw'* are valued 
at ^3-10-0. The "matted" is also found, and it occurs 
in the most valuable woods : " twelve walnut matted and 
one elbow chair, j^^S" '^73 0- 

Other chairs recorded are: flag, sheepskin, maple mat- 
ted, cedar chairs with basket bottoms, hickory, red, carved 
matted, corner, and, most expensive of all, twelve brocade- 
bottom chairs, ^^84 (1751). The "Windsor chair," the 
making of which became a separate industry, made its 
appearance early in the century. Three open Windsor 
chairs (John Lloyd) are valued at ^3 in 1736; and two 
at ^i in 1 74 1. 

The mahogany chairs on page 148 are fine examples of 
the Chippendale school of the end of our period. They 
are beautifully carved on back, arms and legs, and the seats, 
of course, have not the original coverings. They are 
authentic specimens of furniture owned in Charleston 
before the Revolution, and they are now in possession of 
Mrs. John Simonds of Charleston, S. C. 

The average house in the South was well supplied with 
seats. Apart from stools, settles, benches and couches, the 
number of chairs is often surprising. A few examples from 
Carolina will show that there was ample accommodation 
for callers. J. Guerard and S. Butler possessed forty-one 
and forty-three chairs respectively in 1723 ; R. Woodward 
34, and D. Gale 65, in 1725; Captain R. Cox 32 (1727); 
E. Hancock 44 (1729); C. W. Glover 34, and S. Screven 
40 (1732); J. Satur 32 and J. Raven 42 (1733) ;T. Somer- 

138 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

villc 50, John Lloyd 38, and John Ramsay 43 (1734); 
Andrew Allen 57 ( 1735); Edward Hext 41 (1742); Noah 
Serre 70 (1746); J. Wragg 51 (1751); and J. Roche 59 
(1752). These numbers, however, are insignificant in 
comparison with those of Maryland and Virginia. In the 
inventory of the estate of William Bladen, of Annapolis, 
the various chairs reach the astounding total of one hundred 
and two. The other Marylander, Major Josiah Wilson, 
possessed only a beggarly forty-two. 

The tables were equally varied during this period. In 
shape they were square, round and oval, in all sizes. The 
woods were cedar, pine, oak, English oak, walnut, black 
walnut, cypress, poplar and bay. Sometimes they were 
painted black, white and various colours. Naturally, the 
pine were the cheapest. In 171 i, Nathaniel Wilkinson 
(South Carolina) owned: a large cedar table, j^'2-10-0; 
two small tables, ^'i. In 1722, we find Thomas Grimball 
(South Carolina) with: one old side table, ^'i ; a walnut 
oval table, £4. ; one large oval cedar table, £S ; a small 
table, j^5; one side table with mulberry frame, j^'i-io-o. 
John Guerard, 1723, owned: five square tables, ^^'9; a 
square oak table, £2; one large oval table, ^^'6; a pine 
painted table, ^'i-io-o; an old oak table, j[2. 

The above examples show the relative values. In addi- 
tion to these there was the bay table, and the slate-topped 
table. In 1727, a slate top table is valued at ^'i, and 
Richard Woodward owned a square bay table (^^4), two 
bay and walnut tables (^('8), besides an oval and cedar table. 
The slate soon led to the marble. In 1727, Major Wil- 
liam Blascway had three cedar tables {j^ii), two Dutch 
tables (;t3)» ^"^ ^^^ marble table in cedar frame (;^I5). 
This evidently was the latest thing out. Mahogany ap- 

IV; 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

peared a little earlier; it was naturally costly. Major Per- 
cival Pawley owned two mahogany tables in 1724, valued 
respectively at ^^9 and j[i i ; and in the following year 
we find John Saunders with a large oval one at ^7-10-0. 
Both men were rich. Sometimes the tables would be in 
great variety in one house. Besides cedar tables, the in- 
ventory of Samuel Pickering (1728) includes: one old 
Dutch painted table, ^i ; one Dutch table, ^^3 ; another 
Dutch table, ^i ; a screen table, ^^i-io-o; and a card 
table, ^6. 

C. W. Glover (1732) had six tables in his hall alone; T. 
Somerville (1734) had seventeen tables of various kinds. 
Among the varieties found are: two Madeira tables, ;^30 
(1731 ) ; one tea table and one round three-legged tea table, 
j[io (1738); one round mahogany claw-foot table, ^4, 
and one oval table, ^6 (1740); small turn-up table with 
drawers, ^15 (1741); red bay table, ^8 (1742); cherry 
table, j[j (1745); six mahogany and two cypress tables, 
^40 (1745); large and small swinging tables, j[2 (1746); 
cedar dining table, ^3 (1746); oval maple table, j[g 
(1746); India tea table, ^12 (1746); round stand mahog- 
any table, j[^; marble table, ^^lo; folding poplar table, 
j[^ ; little cedar table, j[2 ; little pine table, fifteen shil- 
lings; painted table and side table, ^^lo (all 1751). In 
1752, J. Roche owns a marble slab and frame valued at 
j[2o; in 1753, a white oak table is set down at ;^io; and 
in 1754, we find a small walnut flap table, j[6, and small 
marble side table, ^6. Lastly, a " Manchineal table " is 
appraised at ^8 in 1741. 

Turning now to the beds, we find many varieties. The 
trundle-bed and the "sea-bed" gradually disappear. Tht 
"standing bedstead" with sacking bottom was the com- 

X40 




RUfth 



* BEDSTEAD 

f carveJ high posts, and bars for light curtains or mosquito nets. This piece shoivs 'very elaborate 
carving oj a kind luhich, originating near the end of the seventeenth century, continued 

to be used as late as l8jo. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

moncst. It was made of oak, and, later, of mahogany or 
walnut, and was frequently carved. In 1727, Captain A. 
Muller had a folding bedstead and furniture, ^('30 ; and in 
1733 Jonathan Main, a ** press bedstead," ^'2. Others 
recorded are : a bedstead with poles, ^^'5 ( R. Vaughan, 
1736); three screw bedsteads, ^^7-1 0-0 (T. Batcheller, 
1737); a standing calico bed and furniture, ;^8o, two 
others at £'jo each, and a red and a blue Paragon bed at 
j^35 each (Hon. A. Middleton, 1738); afield bedstead and 
coarse pavilion (Thomas Oliver, 1744) ; two yellow "Saun- 
ders bedsteads," jf 8, two pine bedsteads, £z^ and four feather 
beds and bolsters, £\^o (Isaac Cordes, 1745) ; a mahogany 
settee bed, ^^50 (John Lawrens, 1745) ; a pine bedstead and 
cord, j^*i-io-o, a " Sarsafaix" bedstead and cord, £\-j-6 
(John Witter, 1746) ; a painted bedstead, ^^'i (G. Haskctt, 
1747); a four-post oak bedstead and bedding, ;{'25, and a 
mahogany bedstead and bedding, ^{'50 (Joseph Wragg, 
1 751); a four-post oak bedstead, ;^io (1753), a cypress 
bedstead, £2 (1754). 

It was, however, the bedding and adornment in which 
the chief value still lay. Thus, while the above-mentioned 
four-post oak bedstead and bedding were valued at £2^ in 
1 75 1, we find another without the bedding set down at 
£\o two years later; and in 1746 S. C. Gaultier's mahog- 
any bedstead (probably a low one), with sacking bottom, 
was worth only £^. 

A fine specimen of the carved mahogany four-post bed- 
stead is shown facing page 142. The posts are beautifully 
turned and carved in foliage designs and terminate at the 
top in pineapples. It is unusually large, measuring eight 
feet four inches from cornice to floor, six feet eight inches 
long and five feet one inch wide. The posts arc fourteen 

«4i 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

inches in circumference, and the feet have deep brass 
sockets and bands into which the castors fit. It is now 
owned by Mrs. James H. Harris, of Richmond, and has 
been owned by the family for more than a century. 

Some of the bed furnishings were very costly, and the 
materials and styles varied greatly. Mosquito netting, made 
into a canopy and still known as a pavilion in South Caro- 
lina, was common all through the South. It was spread 
over the hammock as well as the bed; it was sometimes 
coloured and seems to have been quite expensive. Some 
of the prices are as follows: a pavilion, ^8 (1722); two 
"gauzed" pavilions, £zo (1725); a pavilion and ham- 
mock, ^5 (1725); a thread pavilion and hammock, ^5, 
and two gauze pavilions and hammocks, ^4 (1745); two 
gauze pavilions and hammocks, ^^30 (1745); and abed 
pavilion, £^\o (1746). 

Curtains and quilts are even more important, and are 
often clearly described. Thus, we have a set of green serge 
curtains, ^7 (1723); bedstead with blue curtains, ;^2o- 
5-0 (1723); set of green serge curtains, ^j (1723); suit 
of curtains and quilt, ^^30 (1724); and a suit of calico 
curtains, £^j (1725). John Jordon, of Maryland, owned 
in 1729 a scarlet camblet bed frame, six window curtains 
and three valance and one old red china bedding and bed. 
S. Screven, of South Carolina, had in 1732 five bedsteads 
and beds, eleven sheets, ninety-nine blankets, fourteen pil- 
lows, four quilts, one cover, and one set of curtains, amount- 
ing to /163. 

John Washington, of Westmoreland County, Virginia, 
left to his daughters " the white quilt and the white cur- 
tains and vallians"; Mary Washington left to her son. 
General George Washington, her best bed, bedstead of Vir- 

14a 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ginia cloth curtains, and a quilted blue and white quilt; 
and to her granddaughter, Polly Carter, a bedstead draped 
with purple curtains and covered with a white counterpane. 

Anne Le Brasseur (1742) possessed a bedstead with 
sacking bottom, bed, bolster, two pillows, two rails and a 
head-board, a moulded wooden tester, and a blue and white 
cotton counterpane, all worth ^^35. Among other bed- 
furnishings we find: a cotton counterpane, ^'8; a suit of 
calico curtains, bedstead, pavilion, mattress, feather-bed, 
bolster and pillow, and window curtains, ^^100 (Thomas 
Oliver, Esq., 1744); a lined set of curtains, j[io; a white 
pavilion, £6 (1744). James Matthews (1745) possessed 
in his "front room upstairs" a blue chintz bed and furni- 
ture with pavilion and window curtains, appraised at the 
astonishing sum of ^^200. The bed and furniture in the 
"back room upstairs" was valued at j[iS^* ^"^ ^^ ^^^ 
"front room garret," among other things, was a bed and 
furniture, £jo\ two pavilions, a suit of chintz curtains and 
chintz counterpane, j^i2o; and bed-linen to the value of 
^^325. It is evident that these values are not very excep- 
tional, for the same year we find another householder in 
possession of " 2 sutes curtains, j^ioo." The latter must 
have been of chintz, which was plainly the fashionable 
material and probably the "latest thing out." It seems to 
have been imitated, and its relative cost to calico appears 
from the following: "one set green curtains, ^^5 ; one set 
Indian calico ditto, £^j\ one ditto, j^io; one ditto mock 
chints, ^^40." 

The curtains at the windows frequently matched those 
of the bed, and in the majority of cases this harmony was 
observed. Among other kinds we find, in addition to those 
already given, a set of curtains, lined, J[^\o (1744); 2 suits 

M3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of curtains, ^^loo (1745); 3 red window curtains, 15 
shillings (1747); i set calico curtains, j[20 (1747); 3 
pairs window curtains, ^3 (1751). 

Feather or flock beds on corded sacking-bottoms were 
the commonest arrangement, but hair mattresses were in 
use in wealthy families, in the early part of the century. 
Roland Vaughan owned two, valued at ;^io, in 1736. 

Screens were by no means uncommon, but the hand- 
screen is not often found. Sometimes they were small 
round or square frames sliding on a post. These frames 
were sometimes painted wood and sometimes they were 
covered with embroidered materials. The values naturally 
varied greatly. In 1725, a pair was appraised at ^i, and 
in 1727 one screen at ^^30. T. Fisher owns one at ^^"6 
(1736), and S. Eveleigh two at ^'15 (1738). A painted 
screen, half worn, is valued at ^"6, in 1741, and two leather 
ones at ^{'15, in 1744. In the latter year a screen (kind 
not stated) is worth seven guineas. In 1745, Sarah Trott 
owns a leather one valued at ^^^i 0-2-0, and in 1745, one 
belonging to E. Heskett is put down at ^^8. T. Wragg 
(175 1) possessed two particularly choice specimens, one 
gilt (^^30) and one stamped leather (^'20). In the latter 
year we also find a painted screen (^'4-10-0); and ten 
guineas is the value of a four-leaved screen in 1754. 

Till nearly the middle of the eighteenth century the 
carpets mentioned were still only coverings for tables, bu- 
reaux, etc. The distinction is clearly drawn in the inventory 
of Noah Serre (1746), in which we find two painted 
table carpets, ^2, and one painted floor cloth, ;^ 10. Other 
carpets are Scotch, Indian, hair, and Turkey. 

Thus we see that the rooms were bright and cheerful 
with a variety of colour, and the somewhat sombre efl^ect of 

«44 



DRKSSING-TABLE 
This mahogany drtisini-Uible is owned by Mrs. Jndrru; iSimonds, of Charleston, S. C. 



r 



:/* • 



TWO EIGHTEENTH CENTURY CLOCKS 

The clock to the left ivas made in Charleston, and tells tides as nvell as phases of the moon ; // // otuned by 
Mrs. Andrexv Simonds, Charleston, S. C. The clock on the right belonged to Franklin. 

See pages J4J and 106. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




mahogany did not dominate until comparatively late in the 
century. Cushions were largely used to make the chairs 
comfortable: they often had covers embroidered by the 
female members of the family. Rebecca Axtell (1727) 
had four chair covers worked, ^^'i. T. Gadsden (1741) 
owned eighteen green 
damask cushions, one 
cover for the easy 
chair and for the 
cushions for ditto, one 
cover for the settee 
with two bolsters, 
j[i2; and two cush- 
ions covered with blue. 
Anne Le Brasseur 
(1742) owned an 
" easy chair and cush- 
ion covered with 
crewel wrought and a 
calico cushion case," /'30 ; and two crewel wrought chair 
bottoms, j[2. J. Wragg (1751) had an easy chair and 
cushion valued at £iS* ^"^ ^" ^754 ^^ ^"^ ^" ^^^Y chair 
and three covers for same, /'20. 

The curtains also were frequently adorned with needle- 
work. An instance of this occurs in the will of Anthony 
Walke, of Fairfield, Princess Anne County, Virginia: "To my 
son Anthony my suit of embroidered curtains, in membrance 
of his mother (Jane Randolph) who took great pains in 
working them — my father's walnut secretarie and clock," etc. 

Corner cupboards came into fashion about 17 10, after 
which date they constantly occur. Presses, cupboards and 
chests of drawers were made principally of cedar, pine and 

«45 



t rcwi^ 



MAHOGANY CHAIR AND DRESSING CASE 

The dressing case was Imported by Randolph of Curlu in 
1 72 1. The brass handles are original. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

cypress during this period. They were not cheap ; an 
article of furniture containing drawers (especially with lock 
and key) was always highly esteemed. 

An example of an early mahogany chest of drawers is 
given on page 145. It is very plain in form and diminutive 
in size. The drawers have the original brass handles and 
key-plates, and the colour of the mahogany is unusually rich. 
It would probably be hard to find an earlier example in the 
country, for it was imported by Thomas Randolph, of 
CurleSy and is now in possession of his descendant, Mrs. J. 
Adair Pleasants, Richmond, Va. The dressing-glass above 
it is also of mahogany and about the same age. The brass 
candlestick is contemporary. The chair standing to the 
left is of mahogany, lighter in colour. The plain square 
back, with pierced jar-shaped splat, plain squared legs and 
straining rails show that this also dates from early in the 
century, probably not later than 1730. The castors, in all 
probability, are later additions. 

The plate facing page i 1 6 shows an old mahogany 
chest of drawers, with swell front and brass handles, owned 
by Miss Susan Pringle, Charleston, S. C. Upon it stands 
a japanned dressing-glass, of which we find so many 
instances in the inventories. The present example was said 
to have been one of the first imported into Charleston from 
the East. A similar dressing-glass appears in Washington's 
bed-room in Mount Vernon. (See Frontispiece.) 

Clocks existed in considerable numbers: the high clock- 
case was often carved and moulded, and made a handsome 
piece of furniture in the hall or dining-room. The small 
clock was used, however, and its price could be equally 
high. In 1 75 I, the Hon. J. Cullom owned a table clock 
valued at ^^loo, while Dr. J. Gaultier's small alarm clock 

146 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

(1746) was only worth j{. 2-1 0-0. The cases were often 
worth more than the works, and we have data for forming 
an idea of the relative values. In 1727, John Bateson, 
clockmaker, died, possessed of a silver repeating watch, 
^90, and an eight-day clock movement, j^*25-io-o. In 
the same year two clocks are appraised at /. 1 5 and 
j^'40. In 1733, one clock-case is worth ^("50, and another 
clock and case, J^^^S- ^^ther values are ^{.'40 and ^^20 
(1734); ;t"50 (^738 ); and/35 (1741). T. Lloyd owned 
a black japanned case clock, ^^35, in 1742 ; and Dr. J. Gaul- 
tier, an eight-day ditto, ^('50, in 1745. Captain H. Hext 
and James Matthews each owned a clock valued at ^80 in 
the latter year. G. Haskett had one worth ^^50 (1747), 
and J. Roche another at /*75 (1752). Two years later, 
two japanned eight-day clocks were appraised at ^^40 and 

/50. 

An accompanying example is a fine San Domingo 
mahogany clock with handsome brass mountings, owned 
by Mrs. Andrew Simonds, Charleston, S. C. It tells the 
tides and the phases of the moon, as well as the month, 
day and hour. Let into the wood and under a glass frame 
is the date •* 1717." A brass plate on the face bears the 
words ** William Lee, Charles Town." The spelling is 
that which was in use in the city during the first century 
of the settlement, and is in itself evidence that the clock 
is over 125 years old. It was used as a packing-case 
for Revolutionary bayonets, which were, however, never 
shipped to their destination. 

Pictures and maps are found in considerable quantities 
in the houses during the first half of the eighteenth century, 
but unfortunately the inventories do not often state the sub- 
jects. The prices, however, are very moderate as a rule; 

147 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




in fact, in many cases, we are forced to the conclusion that 
the frames and glasses were valued as highly as the pictures 
themselves. The maps are also set down without descrip- 
tion in most cases. The hall always had a generous supply 
of what pictures the family possessed. Sometimes a distinc- 
tion was drawn be- 
tween "pictures" and 
paintings," which 
would argue the 
former to be under- 
stood as engravings. 
Frequently the num- 
ber is not mentioned, 
the item simply read- 
ing "old pictures," or 
"a parcel of old pic- 
tures." 

It is customary to 
think of old and "Co- 
lonial " furniture as consisting entirely of mahogany. This 
idea is erroneous, as we have already seen. Mahogany fur- 
niture was practically non-existent in the South before 1720, 
and then, even among the wealthiest, its spread was very 
slow. Twenty-five years later there were only a few scattered 
pieces in most of the houses, and sometimes there was none 
at all. In 1746 no mahogany is mentioned in the inventory 
of Daniel Townsend, whose estate is appraised at more than 
^20,000: his furniture consisted of walnut, cedar, pine, 
and maple. Richard Wright, 1747, who was also exceed- 
ingly rich, had a good deal of mahogany, but it was liberally 
sprinkled with "leather-bottomed, bass-bottomed, rush-bot- 
tomed" and cane chairs. People in moderate circumstances 

148 



TWO CHAIRS 

These chairs are delicately carved in mahogany, and are very 
valuable pieces; date about 1750. Sec page 138. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

occasionally possessed a mahogany table, but their furniture 
f was almost entirely oak, pine, bay, cypress, cedar, and walnut. 

Towards the middle of the century the rage for mahog- 
any was fast increasing. The Carolina planters were ex- 
ceedingly prosperous and their houses showed a degree of 
luxury unsurpassed by the London merchants. In 1751, 
Mr. John Morton, whose estate was valued at j^ 2 1,355, 
possessed rich furniture and quantities of it. With the ex- 
ception of six common black chairs and an " iron japanned 
table and waiter," it seems to have been all mahogany. 
Among other things we find a harpsichord (^^150); two 
sets of prints of Hogarth's Rake's Progress and Harlot's 
Progress (j^ 30) ; another harpsichord and a spyglass, together 
valued at j^ 30 ; a mahogany bookcase (j^'i 00) ; i 2 plain ma- 
hogany chairs (j^'40); 12 brocade bottomed chairs (^^84); 
a mahogany cradle and two cases of bottles (j[is)'y ^"d a 
yellow silk bed-quilt, which must have been very choice, 
since it was valued at ^^ 10. 

The growing taste for furniture of the Chippendale 
school is clearly seen towards 1740. The prices of com- 
paratively minor articles show that the new style has 
arrived. R. Vaughan, 1736, has a large mahogany chest 
of drawers, £2^ ; a mahogany bookcase, with sixteen 
square glasses, ;^20; a mahogany paper case, ^16; a small 
mahogany writing desk, j[io; a mahogany tea-box, ^'3-10-0. 
T. Gadsden, 1741, has a glass bookcase escritoire, ^^40. 

In Maryland, also, about this time, mahogany was in 
vogue, and the best of it came by way of England. 

Other evidence of the general practice of importing 
the finer furniture from England, until the Revolution, is 
afforded by the Will of Anthony Walke, of Fairfield, 
Princess Anne County, Virginia: 

«49 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



" I give to my wife, 

Mary Walke the 

sum of fifty pounds ster- 
ling to buy furniture for 
her best room, in case I 
should not send for it 
before my death ." 

Facing page 1 40 
is a mahogany bed and 
chair from Boiling 
Haiiy Virginia. The 
carving of the posts is 
not very elaborate, but 
is quite characteristic 
of so many beds of the 
period. The little 
dressing glass and 
drawer is also mahog- 
any and typical of so 
many we have had 
mentioned in the in- 
ventories. The secre- 
tary is mahogany, in- 
laid, and with brass 
mounts. The two 
sham top drawers are, 
of course, one piece, 
which lets down in 
front to form a writing 

This special piece is ex- dcslc, with the USUal 

arrangements inside. 
It belonged to Chief- Justice Marshall, of Virginia, and is 
now in the house of Mr. Thomas Boiling, Richmond, Va. 

150 



^ c...,^ 




BOOKCASE 



Later years of eighteenth century 
traordinarily large. 




SOMK OLD NEW ORLIiANS IMECKS 

LaJy's working-UtbU, candles ticks ^ liquor set and Russian Samovar. The table is in Louis 

XIV style and has drawers with secret bottoms. The liquor set is very rare. 






f,^' 

J^*:' 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

^ Chippendale bookcase is shown on page 150. It is 
of colossal dimensions. This is the property of Mr. George 
S. Holmes, of Charleston, S. C, and is an old family piece, 
as two or three of the original drawers were used by the 
British officers for horse-troughs. Their places have been 
supplied by "new ones" made directly after the Revolution. 
The wavy cornice is surmounted by the brass ornament. 

Opposite page 92 is a room in the home of Mr. Andrew 
Simonds, Charleston, S. C. It is furnished in the old 
style, with brilliantly flowered chintz hangings, chair 
covers, and wall-paper to match. The bed is an old 
piece of Charleston mahogany, beautifully carved, each post 
being a succession of pine-apples and foliage. The tester is 
also carved. It belonged originally " to the fairest woman 
in all the Carolinas," over a century ago. The rest of the 
furniture is of somewhat later date. The dressing-table, a 
handsome specimen, inlaid with brass, is shown facing 
page 144. The chair at the foot of the bed is of the 
Hepplewhite School, and is of an unusual size and very 
rich carving. The chair in front of the table is exceed- 
ingly late. 

Louisiana, though partly colonized during the Seven- 
teenth Century, contained no flourishing towns nor thriv- 
ing plantations, and therefore research into its furniture 
yields little result. New Orleans, at first a penal settle- 
ment, knew nothing of wealth or fashion until late in the 
Eighteenth Century. What good furniture the higher 
officials possessed was naturally of French make, and 
pieces of the styles of Louis Quatorze, Quinze, and Seize 
undoubtedly found their way across the water. The fine 
examples of those periods still to be found in the city, how- 
ever, were brought in or imported, at a considerably later date. 

»5» 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

While the carved oak was the furniture fashionable 
in England and her colonies, the furniture of France was 
particularly luxurious. The general taste for magnificence 
in the reign of Louis Quatorze produced the ornate 
meubles de luxe^ of which Boule and Riesener were the 
most famous designers. Cabinets, encoignuresy fauteuilsy 
tables, commodes, clocks, armoireSy etc., were veneered with 
tortoise-shell and inlaid with brass, and richly ornamented 
with gilt bronze mounts. The styles of Louis Quatorze, 
Louis Quinze, and Louis Seize will be treated in a later 
chapter, but we give an example (see plate facing page 
150) of Boule's work. The piece is a lady's work-table 
of the Louis Fourteenth period. It is of ebony, with the 
kind of veneering just mentioned. It has the usual bag, 
or well, for small receptacles, and curious drawers with 
secret bottoms. It was a present from Louis Philippe 
to the Marquis de Marigny. Upon the table is a liquor 
set with bottle and glasses of crystal inlaid with gold. 
The case is ebony inlaid with nacre and bronze. This 
was a gift from Gov. Villere to the Marquis de Marigny. 
The silver candlesticks also belonged to Marigny, a present 
from Toledano. Beneath the table stands a Russian samo- 
var of bronze. 





THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR ^^if 

FOREiFATHERS 




CARVED OAK CUPBOARD 
Owned by Mr. IValter Hosmer, Wethersfield, Conn. See Page 163. 




THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CRITICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLATES 
By RUSSELL STURGIS 



ILLUSTRATED 



^s:j^sjic:ic:s:::ss:::^::^:::^:::m:::s;::^:^^ 



t^::KM PART m ^cx>3 




GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
19 13 




COPYRIGHT, MAY, I901, BY 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE A CO. 



CONTENTS 



The Early Settlers of New England ^5S~^57 

First houses, i 56 ; Men of wealth, i 56 ; home of Geoi^c 
Phillips, I 56-7. 

Early Houses in Plymouth and Salem . 158—160 
Chests, Trunks, The Atlantic Passage i 61-162 

Possessions of those who Perished in the C»rea r 

Ship ........ 163 

Home of Governor Goodyear . . . .164 

(Governor Eaton's Furniture . . . 166-168 

Notable and Aristocratic Settlers . 1 69-1 71 

Indications of comfort and elegance, 171. 

Joiners and Cabinet-makers, Upholsterers and 

Carvers ...... 173—179 

Kinds of woods used, 173 ; value of furniture, 173; skilled 
labour, 174; wages, 174 ; shop goods of certain joiners, 177— 
8; importations of tropical woods, 179; New England fur- 
niture sent to the South, 179. 

Chairs, Stools and Other Seats . . 180—196 

Prices of chairs, 180; the child's chair, 181-2; varieties of 
chairs, 182-9 ; materials and colours used for upholstering 
chairs, 188-190 ; buffet-stools, 190— i ; changes in the form 
of the chair, 194; the passing of the oak period and the 
growing Dutch influence, 194—5. 

Extensive Use of Cushions .... 196-198 

Coverings and cases, 196; number and value of cushions, 
197-8 ; carpets and cupboard cloths, 197-8. 

Tables ....... 198-202 

Trestles, btiards and forms, 198—9; drawing and folding 
ubies, 199; round, square and oval tables, 200-2 j woods 
used for tables, 201. 



Contents 



:-2i I 



213 
220 



PACK 

Beds and Their Furnishings . . . 202—205 

Four-post and trundle-beds, 202—3 ; materials and colours of 
curtains, 204—5 *> tju'lts, blankets and coverlids, 204—5. 

The Cupboard ...... 205 

Plate and pewter displayed, 205-6 ; livery and court cup- 
boards, 207—8 ; cupboard cloths, carpets and cushions, 209; 
changes and developments of form, 209—1 1. 

The Press and the Frame . . . .211 

Chests AND Trunks . . . . . 213 

Varieties of the chest, 214; definitions, 215; evolution of 
the chest with drawers, 215—6 ; chest of drawers, 218 ; de- 
velopments, 220. 

Desks and Bookcases ..... 220—222 

Scretore and furnishings, 220— i; books and study, 221. 

Metal Mountings, Locks, Keys and Hinges 
The Cabinet ...... 222 

Varieties of the cabinet, 223 ; china, porcelain and East 
India ornaments, 223—4. 

Musical Instruments and Clocks and Watches 

224-225 

Virginals and "gitternes," 224; clocks with and without 
cases, 224; watches, sun-dials and hour-glasses, 225. 

Looking-Glasses and Fireplaces . . 225- 

Artillery-Room of Major-General Gibbons 
Wealthy New Englanders .... 

Home of William Wardell . . . 229- 

HoME OF Sir William Phipps ^ . . 230- 

Dower Furniture . . . . .231- 



222 

224 



-226 
226 
227 
-230 
-231 
-232 




Hil^I 



List of Illustrations 



WITH CRITICAL NOTES ON MANY OF 
THE PLATES BV RUSSELL STURGIS 



ALL THE NOTES rURNItHKD BY MR. STURGIt 
A«E FOLLOWED BV HIS INITIALS^ R. S. 



Frontispiece: Carved Oak Cupboard 



PAGE 

FACING iii 



Kitchen in the Hancock-Clarke House facing 155 

In which a number of miscellaneous articles, authentic relics of old times in America, 
have been brought together. On the left the object on the lowest shelf is a foot stove 
such as was used in church, and not only there. The andirons are of no impiortance as 
works of art or industry. The leather portmanteau on an upper shelf should be com- 
pared with those facing page 224, but this is one of a later date than they and belongs to 
the time when the stage coach was available. The chair is of the most interesting type. 
The leather receptacle hanging on the wall above the chair is a trunk-mail only a little 
Larger than those which were used in days of honeback journeying. On the wall be- 
yond the door there hang tint a pair of saddle<bag9 of leather. Beneath this is a settle 
of the real iiresidr kind, such a piece of furniture as was used in the country houses of 
England from very early times ; the back reaching the floor so as tu shut out draughts. 
In front of the lireplace are three " tin kitchens," or " Dutch ovens," shaped so as to 
gather and reflect upon the roasting joint the beat of the open lire. R. S. 



Carved Oak Cupboard . . . facing 

Such as we should call to-day a cabinet, or, using a French phrase, bakut. The fronti»- 
piecc shows the same piece with the upper door shut. There is no reason for the half- 
hexagonal shape of the upper part except the desire to preserve the decorative etfect of 
the two corner pillars standing free ; and these pieces were made rather for their stateli- 
ness than for mere utility. Consult a similar piece in Part I, plate opposite page 36. 
In the present instance the sculpture is all in scrollwork, much more easy and flowing 
than that common to Elizabethan design ; it is probably of the time of Charles I, and 
the dc ails studied partly from Italian models. The fact that the sculpture is flat, a 
mere sinking or "abating" of the background, indicates a provincial or up-country 
piece of work as distinguished from that oi a centre of manufacture and fine art. Other 
pieces in the present chapter have the same peculiarity. This flatness is hardly abandoned 
in any part, and the solid Kulpture, as in the Ionic capitals, shows an unpracticed hand. 
R. S. 



158 



Settle with Table Top 



The back of which is formed by a table top that can be dropped into a horisontal posi- 
tion. Exactly such a piece oi kitchen furniture can be bought to-day, cheaply nude, and 
called an ironing table. R. S. 



159 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Oak Table ..... facing 159 

Which was originally made to lift, probably attached by hinges on one side in order to 
save room in the fashion shown in the settle, page i 59. The unusually large bulbs which 
form part of the design of the legs are stained black. The very awkward form of the 
straining piece is to be noticed. The attempt is evident to keep the horizontal bars away 
from the ankles of those who may sit at the table. R. S. 

Oak Chest . . . . . . .161 

The decoration of which by means of mouldings worked in the solid wood is suggestive 
of that lingering of medizval methods of design which exists, more visibly, in seventeenth- 
century buildings of Rhode Island and Connecticut. There is no affectation of classical 
design about this piece j it is put together simply with tenons held in their mortices by 
pins. R. S. 

Carved Oak Chair . . . facing 164 

Of which the form is simple and agreeable, the turned legs and balusters being well pro- 
portioned to the whole, and the unusually heavy parts very effective m giving the appear- 
ance of immovable solidity. The piece is of that epoch when the English artisans were 
trying to work in a style which was new to them, and which involved as they thought 
the covering of every part with ornament. The medizval leafage had to be abandoned, 
and they were not provided with adequate material to replace it; for the peasant sculptor 
has used the Elizabethan strap ornament only for the top rail, the rest of his work being 
poorly designed scroll patterns of his own imagining. R. S. 

Two Clocks ..... facing 165 

Both clocks are of English manufacture and are good typical examples of the period. 

Oak Cupboard with Drawers . . . .169 

But with the balusters and the curious half balusters which are applied to the surface for 
ornament made of some finer grained wood and stained black. The relation of these 
curious half balusters to the engaged columns so much sought after in buildings of the 
time would be curious to make out; for in either case it suggests the making of flat draw- 
ings rather than the working out the building or the furniture in modelling clay. The 
idea that, because a whole round shaft or pillar is good, therefore a split one is good also 
has done a great deal of harm to design. R. S. 

Oak Cradle and Table . . . . .176 

Two simple specimens of native make. The cradle was made in 1680. There is upon 
it a slight attempt at decorarion. The table, not a large one, is somewhat rougher, al- 
though the legs are turned. The drop ornament is characteristic of much furniture of 
the period (see the chair on page 45). £. S. 

Chest with Drawers . . . facing 176 

Of the kind which was called also Chest on drawers, from which term was probably de- 
rived the more modem term, Chest of drawers. In such pieces of furniture the chest 
when spoken of by itself was often called " well;" of course because you dipped into it 
fix>m above. The design, with mouldings and half balusters applied and probably made of 
different wood firom the piece, is chiefly admirable for the painted ornament in red and 
white. An Oriental propriety of feeling for color seems to have controlled it. R. S. 

Court Cupboard . . . . . .178 

Called in modern times more commonly "cabinet." In this case the effect of free pil- 
bn at the angles (see frontispiece and ^cing page 158) is got by setting back the whole 
upper part of the cupboard. In some few cases the quasi-architectural effect here men- 
tioned is got without the twofold inconvenience of having the doon open upon a solid 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAOI 

table top, the things ttanding upon which are likely to be brushed awray, and of not very 
eafy access to the interior; and this by the sintple device of opening a door in each end of 
the upper box, the front of which remains iixed. In this and in the cabinet shown 
on page 307 the doors open in the front, with inAnite inconvenience; for, indeed, the 
ordinary box cabinet is as clunuy as it is monumental. R. S. 

Oak Chest with Drawer . . facing 177 

The chest proper or Well being of unusual dimensions. This is an admirable piece of 
panelling, the traditional character of the adornment by cutting and moulding being well 
carried out in the decorative sculpture. The square panels of the front have their top 
and bottom edges, viz., those on the horizontal rails, chamfered with a simple splay end- 
ing in curved stops, but the upright mullions are elaborately moulded on both edges, a 
system of mouldings which is not repeated on the sides of the comer stiles — an excellent 
distinction and full of charm to the lover of solid woodwork. R. S. 

Oak Chair . . . . . . .181 

In which the carving shows a very slight advance from the flat, abated work facing page 
158. The working of the stiff and sharp leaves in the uprights which form part of 
the panelled back is very interesting as showing how very great a change in otherwise flat 
work b to be obtained by a few well-imagined groovings and sinkings. R. S. 

Table and Child's Chair . . . facing 182 

The table leaves are supported by triangular brackets of unusual size. This belongs 
to the third system described in the legend of table on page 201, but differs from nearly all 
tables with springing brackets in having the brackets so long as to frame into the straining 
piece below. R. S. 

Carved Oak Chair and Leather Chair . . 183 

The cane chair is of the Charles II period, with turned supports and straining-rail. The 
second chair was originally an early variety of the low leather chair. E. S. 

Cane Chair and Leather Chair . . . 184 

The cane chair is a transitional form, showing Dutch influences. The legs have a dis- 
tinct suggestion of the cabriole shape. The low leather chair has been re-upholstered 
and is of a somewhat later development than that on the preceding plate. Engravings 
of Abraham Bosse, 1633, show precisely this kind of chair. £. S. 

Rush-bottomed Chair . . . facing 183 

This early example of a "wing-chair " is interesting as showing no trace of carving or 
other characteristics of the Jacobean period. Its comfort was increaaed by a cushion. 
The feet show the growing Dutch influence towards the end of the century. £. S. 

Rush-Bottom and Cane Chairs . . .186 

The chair on the left shows the back «vtth a more developed use of the plain central 
panel as an ornament, the rane webbing on either side now having been discarded and 
the top being slightly shaped towards the form of the bow which will shortly become so 
popular. A little further development of the feet will also produce the hoof feet. The 
centre chair has Seen cut down into a rocking-chair and its original proportions entirely 
change^. The chair on the right is a late example of this period. E. S. 

Rush-bottom, Turned and Cane Chairs . .187 

These are three more varieties that were very common during this century. The centre 
chair is very ungainly, the tunted supports being very massive. The hollow prepared for 
the cushion is plainly visible. E. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACE 

Cane Chairs . . . . . . .188 

These are chiefly interesting for the panels of cane in the back and the combination of 
turned and carved work in the frames. E. S. 

Cane Couch and Armchair . . . .190 

The couch is a good specimen of the period, the carving being uniform with the prevail- 
ing style of chair. The cane bottom has been replaced with modern material. E. S. 

Carved Oak Cane Chairs .... 

The chair on the left is an exceedingly handsome specimen and is more elaborately 
carved than many of the chairs of this period. 



193 



Settle with Folding Candlestand . facing 194 

The back of which does not seem ever to have reached the floor. The panelled back and 
arms are high enough to guard the person against any draughts above, as from open or 
leaking windows. The adjustable stand for a candle or a cup of tea is an unusual feature 
— one that may well have been added at a later time, perhaps at the behest of someone 
who liked the particular corner by the Are which the settle afl^orded him or her, and who 
desired such a convenience at the elbow. R. S. 

Turkey-work Settee . . . facing 195 

This is an unusually interesting example, as the original Turkey-work covering has been 
preserved and enables us to see the material that gave its name to one of the most 
. popular class of chairs for fully half a century. The variegated colors and patterns pro- 
duce a very bright efl^cct. The framework is of turned oak and the settee is both com- 
fortable and attractive. E. S. 

Oval Table ....... 200 

With eight legs, very similar to that shown on page 201, the difference being that 
while on page 201 all eight legs reach the floor, at least in appearance, in the present 
example only six stand on the floor, while the other two are confessedly revolving up- 
rights into which the swinging structures supporting the leaves are framed. A compari- 
son between the designs of these two tables is very interesting. There are some reasons 
for thinking that that shown on page zoo is much earlier than that shown on page 
201, but the latter design with the baluster-shaped legs seems more graceful. There 
is no common piece of late seventeenth-century furniture more pleasantly fantastic or 
more agreeable, both for use and decorative effect, than these many-legged tables when of 
pretty form, or, as is less common, of beautiful wood. R. S. 

Oval Table . . . . . . .201 

Of the more elaborate sort, in which the support for the leaves when open is afforded 
by a revolving frame with two legs. 

The three-cornered table in Part II, opposite page 1 18, gives another and sometimes a 
very useful form. R. S. 

Oak Court Cupboard ..... 207 

This is practically identical with that described above and shown on page 178. 

Cupboard Chest of Drawers . . facing 210 

The uppermost large drawer oddly designed so as to resemble the front of a cupboard, 
while the drawers are enclosed and concealed by two doors. The style of the work re- 
sembles that of the two chests, pages 217 and 218. 

Two pieces shown in Fart II may be compared with this, but they are secretaries 
rather than chests of drawers in the ordinary sense. The general idea of having the 
drawer fronts enclosed and concealed by doors, though good as a preventative against 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

dust, wu more commonly intended at an additional ricmrnt in the dignity of design than 
as a utilitarian device; fur dust was not much to be feared in the small towns of the 
seventeenth century. R. S. 

Large and Miwiature Chest with Drawer . 212 

One of the earliest forms of the piece of furniture which grew into the modem chest of 
drawers, called in French Commode (the only piece of furniture out of rruny which has 
preserved that name), and in the United States generally Bureau. It can hardly be later 
than the year 1 700, though the handles and scutcheons are more recent. As for the 
little box set upon it, this, whether considered as a child's toy or as a convenience fur 
toilet articles, may be of any date from 1 700 to 1 800, the type prevailing longer in such 
small objects. R. S. 

Oak Chest with Drawer ..... 211 

Kot unlike that illustrated on page zti except that the somewhat elaborate panelling, 
with nrtouldings planted on, implies an origin in a city workman's shop. It is possible, 
however, that the piece has been altered, as the end, with a very elaborate raised panel 
apparently boxed out, it certainly not of the same design at the front. R. S. 

Oak Chest with Drawers . . . facing 214 

And the usual "well" still retaining its full depth, so that, with the rim so high, it 
must have been inconvenient to deal with the objects laid upon its bottom. The orna- 
mentation by applied black-stained half balusters and half ellipsoids is of one epoch, the 
carving of the central panel and probably of the side panels of another. There is some- 
thing extremely attractive in the sun-flowers or dahlias sunk into the wood and only 
tlightly relieved from the sinking, and it would be pleasant to know when and by whom 
that spirited piece of carving was executed. R. S. 

Oak Desk ...... facing 216 

In its present form apparently a ivading desk but chiefly attractive on account of the very 
unusual carving of the front. The date, 1684 and the initials W. H. are not to be 
overlooked. The way in which these and the scroll ornaments are cut out and the 
whole surface around them abated and punched with a rude point, probably a large nail, 
the end of which had been filed — speaks of the up-country carpenter who had orders 
to make something a little unusual. R. S. 

Carved Oak Chest .... facing 216 

Probably not later than 1640, and carved with extraordinary skill, taste .ind ability. 
Such comment must needs be relative; the work lacks in grace if compared with Parisian 
work of the period, or with that of the great central district of France, Touraine and 
Berri and as ftr east as Burgundy; but it has close relations to the work of the seventeenth 
century in the south of France, and is singularly bold and masterly with a willingness on 
the part of the workman to sink deep into the hard wood, producing a kind of counter- 
tunic relief or cavo-relievo which it unusual in tuch work. R. S. 

Oak Case of Drawers . . . . .217 

One of the most unusual character. The purpose of the maker in providing ten drawers, 
no one of which is of length sufficient to lay a gown or a cloak in without much fold, 
ing, is a putzle; but one who had other chests of drawers would find this a valuable piece. 
The decoration is of that vexatious sort which is limited to the planting on of turned 
pilasters and worked mouldings, nor can anything be said in praise of the piece except for 
the general character of its proportions. R. S. 

Oak Chest of Drawers . . . . .218 

Quite small compued with that thuwn on page 117. R. S. 

xi 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

rACE 

Chest, or "Nest," of Drawers . . . .219 

And a very drcp well. Such pieces as this, made perhaps of apple wood, perhaps of 
maple, were common in New England towns and were usually the work of the local car- 
penter. It is nearly always impossible to date them, as the simple mouldings of the 
drawers, the fronts of which project beyond the frame, are tradidoaally copied by genera- , 

tion after generation of workmen, and there is no other ornament whatever. R. S. 

Oak Chest of Drawers . . . . .221 

With the unusual added convenience of a hinged and dropping leaf at each end with an 
adjustable bracket to support it. The character of the design is not different firoro that 
of several pieces illustrated in this chapter. R. S. 

Kitchen in Whipple House . . facing 217 

Which should be compared with that in Plate I. The room itself is of vastly greater in- 
terest on account of the unaltered and unceiled floor overhead, with its heavy moulded 
timbers. The furniture in the room includes an excellent table with one dropping leaf 
and six legs — at least there is no evidence of there having been another leaf with two 
more legs on the side nearest the spectator \ chairs of about 1 700 and oi unusual grace 
and delicacy of design, and various utensils more interesting to the student of manners 
and customs than to the artist. Such a student may enjoy the coffee-pot with a choice 
of spouts, one spout set at a right angle to the handle and another in the line with the 
handle, so that the mistress of the house can pour in the English or the French way at 
pleasure. In this room the partition of heavy planks should be noted; each plank worked 
with a bevelled edge on one side and a rabbet and moulded tongue on the other side, so 
that they fit one another like clapboards. R. S. 

Trunks AND Foot-warmers . . . facing 224 

(Compare also those in the Hancock-Clarke kitchen, facing page 155.) The cylindri- 
cal form of traveling trunk was rare in the seventeenth century. It was convenient for 
packing on horses or mules; but the piece in question is a little too elaborate for that and 
suggests rather the back of the traveling carriage or post-chaise. The design, if so sim- 
ple a composition can be called by that name, with large brass nails holding bands of 
colored leather to the hair-covered trunk, is full of interest. R. S. 

Oak Chest with Drawers . . facing 225 

Worked all over with very slight incisions which, though the manner of decoration is 
feeble and the forms arbitrary, non-traditional and without purpose, has yet a pretty ef- 
fect when considered as a covering pattern — as if a wall paper of unusual design had been 
applied to the surface. R. S. 

Looking-glass Frame . . . facing 230 

This is a typical olive-wood frame of the period. 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part III 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part III: Early Ne^w England 

IMPORTED AND HOME-MADE PIECES OF THE SEVENTEENTH 

CENTURY 

HERE is a general impression that the early 
settlers of New England were a somewhat 
fanatical band of Pilgrims who left the van- 
ities of the world behind them and sought 
the wilds of the west in order to live a 
simple life in accordance with the dictates 
of their own conscience. We must remember, however, 
that when the Pilgrim's Progress appeared, half a century had 
already elapsed since the Mayjiowerh^.d. sailed, and therefore 
the Pilgrim Fathers can scarcely have consciously taken 
Bunyan's humble hero as a model. Many of them were far 
from humble in station, and they certainly did not despise the 
loaves, and, more especially, the fishes of the New England 
coasts. They came in the interests of a trading company. 
Freedom of worship, moreover, was no stronger inducement 
to many to come, than was freedom from oppressive taxa- 
tion. Many left their country rather than pay the taxes, 

»S5 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and these No Subsidy men of course took their movables 
with them, or had them sent on as soon as they were 
settled. The first houses were small and rude enough, but 
very soon we find commodious and comfortable dwellings 
filled with furniture that has nothing suggestive of the 
pioneer or backwoodsman. A thousand pounds was a 
great sum of money in those days, but before 1650 there 
were plenty of men in New England who were worth 
that amount. Some were even more wealthy. In 1645, 
Thomas Cortmore, of Charlestown, died worth ^^ 1,2 5 5. 
Humphrey Chadburn, of York, ^^1,713, lived till ten 
years later. Joseph Weld, of Roxbury, owned ^^2,028 in 
1 646, and the possessions of F. Brewster and T. Eaton, of 
New Haven, were respectively valued at ^1,000 and 
j^3,ooo in 1643. Opulent Bostonians who were all dead 
by 1660 were John Coggan, ;^i,339; John Cotton, 
^1,038; John Clapp, ^1,506; Thomas Dudley, ^1,560; 
Captain George Dell, ^1,506; William Paddy, ^^2,221; 
Captain William Tinge, ^^2,774 ; Robert Keayne, ^3,000 ; 
John Holland, j^3, 325 ; William Paine, ^4,230; Henry 
Webb, ^7,819; and Jacob Sheafe, ^8,528. It would be 
an error to assume that the bulk of this wealth was due to 
wide domains, for the average plantations in New England 
were very small in comparison to those in the South. As a 
rule, the personalty far exceeded the realty; land, more- 
over, was cheap. George Phillips will serve as a type of 
the prosperous class of Boston in the early days. He died 
in 1644. His estate was appraised at j[S52- Of this, the 
dwelling-house, barn, outhouse and fifteen acres of land 
only amounted to ^120, whereas the study of books alone 
was worth ^71-9-0. The house contained a parlour, 
hall, parlour chamber, kitchen chamber, kitchen and dairy. 

IS6 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The hall was furnished with a table, two stools and a chest. 
The parlour contained a high curtained bedstead with 
feather bed, a long table, two stools, two chairs and a chest 
(all made comfortable with six cushions) and a valuable 
silver "salt" with spoons. In the other rooms were five 
beds, four chests, two trunks, one table, one stool, bed and 
table linen, and kitchen stuff. A good example of a 
kitchen, that of the Hancock House, Lexington, Mass., 
faces page 155. 

William Goodrich, of Watertown (died 1647), is an 
example of the settler of moderate means. His furniture 
is evidently of the plainest kind and probably made by a 
local joiner, since his cupboard, chest, two boxes, chair- 
table, joint stool, plain chair and cowl, are valued at only 
eighteen shillings, while the flock bed with its furnishings 
is appraised at ^^5-4-0. The latter, however, is worth 
more than half as much as his dwelling house and five and 
one-half acres of planting land in the township, three acres 
of remote meadow and twenty-five acres of "divident," 
which total only j[io altogether. 

The wealth of the settlers consisted, in many cases, of 
"English goods" including all kinds of clothing, cotton, 
linen, woolen and silk stufl^s; and tools, implements, ves- 
sels and utensils of iron, pewter, brass, wood and earthen- 
ware. It is surprising, however, on scanning the numer- 
ous inventories of merchandise, to see how few articles of 
furniture were on sale in the various stores. The mani- 
fest conclusion is that such furniture as was not brought 
in by the immigrants was either specially made here or 
ordered from local or foreign agents. Henry Shrimpton, 
of Boston, who died in 1666 with an estate of j^* 12,000, 
had goods to the value of about ^£^3,300 to supply the 

«S7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

needs of the community, but practically none of his stock 
was wooden furniture. 

Thomas Morton, writing in 1632, says: "Handicrafts- 
men there were but few, the Tumelor or Cooper, Smiths 
and Carpenters are best welcome amongst them, shopkeep- 
ers there are none, being supplied by the Massachusetts 
merchants with all things they stand in need of, keeping 
here and there fair magazines stored with English goods, 
but they set excessive prices on them, if they do not gain 
Cent per Cent, they cry out that they are losers." 

The first houses at Plymouth were constructed of 
rough-hewn timber with thatched roofs and window panes 
of oiled paper. The chimneys were raised outside the 
walls, and the hearths laid and faced with stones and clay. 
Edward Winslow, who next to Bradford was the leading 
spirit in the colony, writes in 1621 : "In this little time 
that a few of us have been here, we have built seven dwell- 
ing houses and four for the use of the plantation, and have 
made preparations for divers others." In the same letter 
he enjoins his friend to bring plenty of clothes and bed- 
ding, fowling-pieces and " paper and linseed oil for your 
windows with cotton yarn for your lamps." 

Quite early, however, imported glass was used in the 
windows. In 1629, Higginson writes from Salem to his 
friends in England : " Be sure to furnish yourselves with 
glass for windows." 

Framed houses were constructed very early. Roger 
Conant had one that was taken down and re-erected at 
Salem on his removal thither in 1628. These dwellings of 
course were always in danger on account of the " great fires " 
necessitated by the severe winter. Brick therefore was made 
as soon as possible, and then the house was built around a 

158 




■ 




CARVED OAK CUPBOARD 

ChuHtd by Mr. flatter Hosmtr^ IVetbtrtfitU^ Ctmt. Set pagt j6j. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

central chimney stack, big and solid. Before long also, 
some houses were built entirely of brick, and glass took 
the place of paper in the windows. Glass works were 




SETTLE WITH TABLE TOP 
Owned by Mr. Jamo Floyd RuskU, Lexington, Mi 



established at Salem before 1638, and the glazier appears 
among the lists of artisans. In 1652 |ames Browne, gla- 
zier, sold a parcel of land in Charlestown. William 
Wardell's ** glass window, seven foot and the frame," was 

•59 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

appraised at seven shillings in 1 670. The towns regulated 
matters relating to the dwellings. In the town records of 
Boston are many entries showing the care exercised : " Oc- 
tober 26, 1636. Thomas Mount shall have leave to fence 
in a peece of the marsh before his house for the makeing 
of brick in." In 1658, John Conney presumed to set up 
a kiln without permission and was enjoined. The same 
year we find an order against the practice of carrying fire 
"from one house into another in open fire pans or brands 
ends by reason of which great damage may accrew to the 
towne." In 1648, permission is given to build porches. 

The abundant woods of oak, ash, elm, walnut, maple, 
cedar and pine supplied all that was required in the con- 
struction of the houses and their furniture. Thomas Mor- 
ton, writing in 1632, says of the red cedar: "This wood 
cuts red and is good for bedsteads, tables and chests, and 
may be placed in the catelogue of commodities." He 
also praises the red oak "for wainscot." "There is like- 
wise black Walnut of precious use for Tables, Cabinets 
and the like." 

House-building was of course the first task of the 
settlers. A "great house" had already been built in 
Charlestown in 1629, and here the Governor and some of 
the patentees dwelt. "The multitude set up cottages, 
booths and tents about the town hall." 

The outfit of the average immigrant was a very simple 
one and the wealthier settlers brought in the original ships 
only sufficient for the needs of a rough existence. The 
finer furniture followed as soon as the reasonable prospect 
of permanent settlement warranted. Chests and chairs 
that came with the first arrivals are still in existence. 

One of these is owned by the Connecticut Historical 

160 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




OAK CHEST 
Now in the Whipple House, Ipswich, Mass. 



Society in Hartford, having been brought over in the 
Mayjioiver by William Brewster the Elder. It is a per- 
fectly plain chest of painted pine with plain iron handles. 
A list of necessaries for the voyage in 1629 includes: 
" Fifty mats to be under 50 beds on board ship, 50 rugs, 
50 pr. blankets of Welsh cotton, 100 pr. sheets, 50 bed 
ticks and bolsters with wool to put in them and Scotch 
ticking." 

A typical oak chest of the period, brought from Eng- 
land in the ship Lyon about 1637, was presented to the 
Historical Society of Rhode Island by William Field, of 
Pomfret, Conn., and is now in the rooms of this society in 
Providence, R. I. It belonged originally to the Field 
family. The old oak chest in the accompanying illustra- 
tion is now in the Whipple House at Ipswich, Mass. 



161 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

An example of an immigrant whose possessions were 
not limited to the bare necessaries of an indentured servant 
is offered by Peter Branch, who died on the Castle on the 
voyage to New England in 1639. Besides clothes and 
tools, he had a lot of household linen, six cushions, feather 
bedding, twenty-seven shillings' worth of red wine, and 
several trunks and chests. The total value of his goods 
was about ;^34. 

Public and private interests frequently required per- 
sonal attention in England, and therefore there was much 
voyaging back and forth. On their return, the travellers 
would naturally bring articles that were dearest, or hardest 
to get in the colonies. All the products of the loom were 
especially profitable, as were also all kinds of wrought 
metal. Returning travellers brought home presents for 
their families just as they do to-day. On his return from a 
visit to England in 1689, the Rev. Samuel Sewall, the 
famous diarist, had aboard the America three small trunks 
carved with the initials of his children's names and the 
year of their birth; a barrel of books, a sea-chest, a bed 
quilt and four blankets, a large trunk marked H. S. witL 
nails, two other trunks, a deal box of linen, a small case of 
liquors and a great case of bottles. 

The dangers and discomforts of a voyage at that day 
were extreme. It is to be noticed that Mr. Sewall paid 
two shillings and nine pence for "a bed of straw to lay 
under my feather bed" for the voyage back to Boston. 
Perhaps the most calamitous venture in the early days of 
New England was that of the Great Ship which carried 
large investments of many members of the New Haven 
colony and some of its most prominent personages, includ- 
ing Captain Turner, Mr. Gregson, Mr. Lamberton and 

ifo 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Mrs. Goodyear. The Great Ship was of only i6o tons 
burden ; she sailed in 1 646 and was never heard of again. 
The loss nearly ruined the little colony and so profoundly 
impressed the popular imagination that the vessel's phan- 
tom became a local legend. 

The inventories of the estates of those who were lost 
in this disaster afford a clear view of the household goods 
of prominent people of the early days of the colony. 
George Lamberton was worth ^f 1,200. He was especially 
rich in linen (including 80 napkins), bed covering, "car- 
pets," cupboard, table, board and chimney cloths. He 
also owned down and feather beds with " curtains, valence 
and stuff for hangings;" i silk, 4 window and 8 other 
cushions; needlework for a cupboard cloth, ^^i-io-o; sil- 
ver plate to the value of ;^36; 4 chests, 2 trunks and 6 
boxes; 11 chairs and 5 stools; i square, i round and i 
drawing table; a case of boxes, a cupboard, and fire-irons 
and andirons. A globe with a Turkey covering was worth 
the large sum of £j \ and the dwelling, lot, etc., with 
outhouses and pump was valued at ;f 255. 

The above-mentioned cupboard, adorned with bright 
cloths and silver plate, is found in practically every house- 
hold of the day. A fine specimen of carved oak, belong- 
ing to Mr. Walter Hosmer, of Wethersfield, Conn., is 
represented both open and shut (see frontispiece and 
facing page 158). It was called the "court cupboard," 
"press cupboard," or, simply, "cupboard." The present 
example was probably brought in by one of the first 
settlers, for the upper part has the half hexagon shape 
of many of the Elizabethan pieces. (See plate facing 
page 36.) 

Mr. Thomas Gregson's house had seven or eight rooms. 

163 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The hall contained a table with carpet, a form, a chair, 2 
covered chairs, 4 low and 5 joint stools, a clock and a great 
chest. The chimney was furnished with andirons, shovel, 
tongs, an iron crane and hooks. Two window cushions 
made an additional comfortable seat. The other rooms con- 
tained eight flock and feather beds with curtains, rods, etc.; 
there were "hangings for the chamber," window curtains, 
and ample bed, table and household linen. Books to the 
value of ^2-5-0, silver plate (33 oz.), jj lbs. of pewter 
and a warming-pan are also found. The parlour was fur- 
nished with two tables (one of which was round) one car- 
pet, one cupboard and cloth, eight chairs with four green 
cushions and thirteen stools, four window cushions, ten cur- 
tains, and andirons, hooks, fire-irons, etc. The house also 
contained another table and cupboard. The estate totalled 
^490, the house being worth about ^148. 

Mrs. Goodyear was the wife of the Governor, who sur- 
vived her twelve years. His inventory (1658), with a total 
of ^^804-9- 10, also shows much comfort and elegance. 
Coverings, " carpets," hangings, cloths, curtains, cushions 
and linen abound. The seats comprise ** three covered 
chairs, a great chair, twelve lesser chairs, a little chair, 
stools, six stools, six joined stools and two plain forms." 
Besides curtained beds, the furniture included chests, trunks, 
a chest of drawers, a cupboard, a court cupboard, a side 
cupboard, a "screetore," a drawing table, a long "draw 
table," two round and two small tables. Brass andirons, 
silver plate, and the usual pewter and kitchen stuff in suffi- 
cient quantity are also found. 

The "great chair," above mentioned, was undoubt- 
edly similar to the one opposite, which is a massive 
piece of furniture of turned and carved oak. The joints 

164 




CARVED OAK CHAIR 

Bmught to fpswich in i6j4. thimeii by the Essex Institute, Su/em, Afass. See fiaj^e tdj. 





JUk 




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^^^PlH^H 




1 "^ « A^V^gV ^fc 








iW 


^^%^S 




^Ha 


Illy 


^M 






5 :i 

1* ' T 


r 


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ipi 


M 






1 


^^^^^^Hl 




lyi! 


'- ^^^^^^^B 




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CLOCK WITH JAPANNED CASE 

Made in England. O-ivned by Mr. IValter Hosmer, 
Wethersfield^ Conn. See page lyi. 



BRASS CLOCK WITHOUT CASE 

O'wned by Mr. Henry Fitz. IVaterj^ SaUfn^ Mass. 
See page JJ2. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

are mortised and tenoned and held together with wooden 
pegs. This kind of "baronial oak" was still found in many 
houses during the Jacobean period. The desirability of the 
ever present cushion is very evident. This handsome 
specimen was brought to Ipswich by the Dennis family in 
1634, and was presented by Mr. Robert Brookhouse to the 
Essex Historical Society, Salem, Mass., in i 82 1 . A similar 
chair, which differs only in carving and inlay, is owned by 
Mr. John J. Bingley, of Hanover, Penn. An oak chair 
said to have been brought into the country in the Hector 
in 1633, among the possessions of the first emigrants to 
Newbury, is owned by Miss Poore at Indian Hilly near 
Newburyport, Mass. 

Mr. Francis Brewster, another of the early notabilities 
of New Haven, died in 1647, when the colony had 
already lost much of its prosperity. His estate was valued 
at jCsSS, whereas four years before it had been valued at 
jf 1,000. In the Great Ship he had lost ^50. His "house, 
home lot, and all the farm" were appraised at j[200. His 
furniture was not especially rich, though by no means 
plain. An East India quilt and an East India cabinet and 
some blue dishes show the intercourse with the neighbour- 
ing Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, which was a 
great emporium for Oriental goods, as will appear in our 
next section. Besides the beds and a good deal of linen and 
pewter, the most noticeable articles are a looking-glass, four 
window cushions, five other cushions, and three blue chairs. 
The only other seats mentioned are three stools. He also 
has "two old sackbuts." He was connected with our next 
example. Fear Brewster having been married to Isaac AUcr- 
ton in 1626. 

Isaac Allerton, the enterprising and restless gentleman 

«6s 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

trader, fifth signer of the Mayflower compact, lived in 
Plymouth, New York, Virginia, and, finally. New Haven. 
There he had a ** grand house on the creek with four 
porches." When it was pulled down the workmen reported 
that the timber was all of the finest oak and the " best of 
joiners had placed it in position." At his death in 1658, 
his estate only amounted to ^i 18-5-2. The furniture was 
small in quantity, though by no means common. It 
included a great chair and two other chairs, a draw table 
and a form, a chest of drawers, a small old table, five cush- 
ions, carpets, beds, five brass candlesticks, and the usual 
pewter, andirons, etc. 

A fine example of the most fashionable table at this 
period faces page 160. It was originally one of the 
varieties of small "drawing tables." The top slab is 
comparatively new. The great bulbs in the legs are black 
with the favourite ebony effect found in all the drawing 
tables and so many of the old bedsteads. This is a rare 
specimen, as the table with a drawer seldom occurs in the 
New England inventories so early as this. It was brought 
to Salem by John Pickering in 1636, and has been in the 
present Pickering house ever since it was built in 1650, 
where it is now in the possession of Mr. John Pickering. 

Governor Theophilus Eaton, who was for so long the 
dominant figure in the New Haven Colony, had a very fine 
home for his numerous family. He died in 1658, and we 
cannot find a better example of a man of wealth and posi- 
tion. Unlike the majority of so many houses of the day, his 
hall contained no bed. We find two tables, one round and 
one "drawing"; the latter was attended with two long 
forms. Then there were two high and four low chairs, 
four high and two low stools, and six high joint stools. To 

166 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

make these comfortable, there were six green and four set- 
work cushions. A livery, or court, cupboard stood against 
the wall and was covered with a cloth and cushions. There 
were two fireplaces in the hall, garnished with one large 
and one small pair of brass andirons, tongs, fire pans, and 
bellows. The tables were adorned with two Turkey car- 
pets. There was also "a great chair with needlework." 
Other articles mentioned are a pewter cistern and a can- 
dlestick. The livery cupboard above mentioned was prob- 
ably the "dresser" against which the Governor's violent 
wife thumped her step-daughter's (Mistress Mary's) head, 
according to the servant's evidence at the lady's trial. 

The parlour contained a bedstead and trundle bed, with 
curtains and bedding, a great table, a livery cupboard, a 
high and a low chair, six high stools with green and red 
covers, two low stools and the usual brass chimney ware. 

" Mr. Eaton's chamber " contained a canopy bed 
with feather bedding, curtains, and valance, a little cup- 
board with drawers, another bed, bedding and curtains, 
two chests, a box, and two cases of bottles, a desk, two 
chairs, three high joint stools and three low stools. The 
room had hangings, and curtains were at the windows. 
The hearth had its usual appointments of brass, and an 
iron back. 

Other apartments included the "Green Chamber," in 
which the table and cupboard cloths, carpets, cushions and 
curtains were green and some of them laced and fringed. 
There were also Turkey-work and needlework cushions 
and rich hangings about the chamber. A bedstead with 
down bedding and tapestry covering, a great chair, two 
little ones, six low stools, a looking-glass, a couch and 
appurtenances, a short table, a cypress chest and a valuable 

167 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

"cubbord with drawers" were also found here. The fire- 
place with brass furnishings was not wanting. 

The "Blue Chamber" was also plentifully furnished, 
the hangings, rugs and curtains being of the same hue. 

A great deal of household linen was kept here in two 
trunks, an iron-bound case, and a great cupboard with 
drawers, which was worth half as much again as the one 
in the ** Green Chamber." 

There were three other chambers besides the kitchen 
and counting-house, all sufficiently furnished. The count- 
ing-house contained " a cupboard with a chest of drawers," 
which was the most expensive article of furniture in the 
house, being valued at ^4, a square table, a chair, and 
two iron-bound chests, besides some other trifles. The house 
contained china, earthenware, pewter, silver plate, .and the 
usual kitchen stuff; and some books, a globe and a map 
valued at ^48-15-0 also occur. The total amounted to 
^1,440-15-0. The decline of prosperity had afl^scted the 
Governor, in common with the rest of the community, 
since in 1643 his possessions had been valued at ^3,000. 

The great cupboard with drawers in the ** Blue Cham- 
ber," as well as those in the " Green Chamber," cannot 
be better illustrated than by the example, belonging to 
Mr. Charles R. Waters, Salem, Mass,,- and shown on page 
169, the panelling and applied black spindle ornaments of 
which were in great favour, during this period, for cup- 
boards as well as for chests and chests of drawers. These 
ornaments were often made of maple and stained black to 
represent ebony. When brass trimmings are found, these 
are often later additions, as the handles were generally 
wooden knobs in character with the spindles. In most of 
the cupboards, chests, etc., the drawers are not in pairs, as 

168 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

they appear, and as the knobs and divisions would seem to 
show, but are one long drawer, as in this example. (See 
also facing page 214.) The compartments above and below 
the middle drawer are rttted with shelves. A glance at this 
plate will make perfectly clear what is meant by the fre- 
quent mention of plate 
and porcelain on the 
cupboard, in the cup- 
board, and on the 
cupboard head. The 
cupboard has already 
been defined on pages 
22 and 36. 

The household 
possessions, already 
enumerated, afford 
ample evidence that 
comfort and elegance 
were by no means rare 
in the New England 
home during the reign 
of Charles I. The 
fanatical Puritan, with 
his hatred of images 
and idolatrous pictures 

and carving, was not yet in full control. England was still 
the principal battle-ground, and on the execution of the 
King in 1649, the colonies received a large inHux of fugi- 
tive Royalists, followed in turn by Cromwell's followers at 
the Restoration eleven years later. Domestic carved oak 
naturally shared somewhat in the disgrace into which eccle- 
siastical art work had fallen in Puritanical minds. The 




OAK CUPBOARD WITH DRAWERS 
In the huuse i>f Mr. Charlrs R. WMett, Sal«m, Man. 



169 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

bare walls and hideous plaster ceiling, for which our thanks 
are still due to the Puritan iconoclasts, doubtless extended 
their severe influence to the furniture in a "root-and- 
branch" community. Anything that recalled the carved 
rood screens, high altars, or choir stalls, would be objec- 
tionable, and so the great carved oak chairs, chests, livery 
cupboards, cabinets, etc., became unpopular with this class 
on both sides of the water, and Dutch influences in furni- 
ture reached New England through Leyden and New Am- 
sterdam even before the style accompanied William of 
Orange into Old England. It must not be supposed, how- 
ever, that all were of the same mind. New England was 
not settled exclusively by Nonconformists and schismatics. 
Roger Conant was a good type of the Episcopalian, and Sir 
Christopher Gardiner was as dissolute and turbulent as the 
average cavalier was reputed to be by the godly. Men of 
birth and breeding, men accustomed to courts and kings' 
chambers, men of means and respectability, were by no 
means the exception in the various settlements. Sir Harry 
Vane was only a sojourner in the land ; but the Saltonstalls 
were aristocratic settlers. Ladies of title also did not hesi- 
tate to cross the seas and incur the hardships and dangers 
of a frontier life. Among others there was Lady Arabella 
Johnson, the daughter of an English earl. She, however, 
died at Salem within a month of her arrival, in August, 
1630; and her husband soon followed her. Lady Susan 
Humfrey, sister of the Earl of Lincoln, also arrived at 
Boston in 1634. It was not poverty that brought them 
here. Then there was Lady Moody, a cousin of Sir H. 
Vane, who came to Salem in 1639. Unfortunately, she 
seriously difl^ered with the local authorities on the subject 
of baptism and found it convenient to proceed further be- 

170 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

fore very long. In 1643 she went to Gravesend (L. I.), 
and died there in 1659. Isaac Allerton successfully steered 
his political craft through the shoals and breakers of the 
corrupt Stuart court ; and Brewster had been with Secretary 
Davison before he fell into disgrace with the Virgin Queen. 
Men of position, wealth and learning came to New Eng- 
land in considerable numbers. 

In 1638 Winthrop notes in his diary: "Many ships 
arrived this year, with people of good quality and estate, 
notwithstanding the Council's order that none such should 
come without the King's order." Among those who in- 
tended to come, history mentions Oliver Cromwell himvself 
If he had not been prevented, Charles I. might not have 
lost his head. Some of those who arrived were quite 
wealthy : Thomas Flint, of Concord, brought in an estate 
of J^^iyOOO. Numerous inventories show that this class of 
settlers was not satisfied with such primitive furniture as 
could be constructed with a hammer, board and nails. 
"Baronial oak," plate, pictures, clocks, fine linen, tapestry 
and other hangings testify of luxury in addition to mere con- 
venience. It is noticeable too that even ministers of the Cjos- 
pel would " manage to submit to these luxurious superflui- 
ties." The Rev. John Norton's inventory (Boston, 1663) 
amounted to j('2, 095-3-0. Among his numerous posses- 
sions were 729 books, ^('300 ; i 32 oz. of plate, ^^ 33 : a case 
of drawers containing English and Spanish coins, ^^135; 
and a clock and case in the parlour. Another divine who 
owned something beyond his staff and scrip was the Rev. 
Joseph Haines, of Hartford. In 1679, his estate totalled 

j^'2,2So. 

Mr. Norton's clock and case is a very early instance of 
the tall clock. An early example of one with a japanned 

»7« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

case faces page i68. According to the name on the dial, 
it was made by Thomas Gardner, who was a member of 
the London Society of Clockmakers in 1687. This speci- 
men belongs to Mr. Walter Hosmer, Wethersfield, Conn. 
The brass clock without case is of earlier date. It was 
made by Jno. Snatt, of Ashford, and belongs to Mr. Henry 
Fitz Waters, Salem, Mass. 

Evidence of " bravery," fashion and other worldly 
vanities are plainly visible in New England during the 
seventeenth century, despite the efforts of the city fathers 
to repress such forms of sin. The pursuit of worldly 
pleasure gave great trouble to the patriarchs. The taste 
for elegance in the home, or the love of fine linen, was 
not left behind in England by all the pilgrims, by any 
means. An extract from a letter written by Winthrop in 
1630 shows how serious the evil was in some cases. "A 
godly woman of the church of Boston, dwelling sometime 
in London, brought with her a parcel of very fine linen of 
great value, which she set her heart too much upon, and 
had been at charge to have it all newly washed and cur- 
iously folded and pressed, and so left it in the press in her 
parlour over night. She had a negro maid who went into 
the room very late, and let fall some snuff of the candle 
upon the linen, so as by morning all the linen was burned 
to tinder, and the boards underneath, and some stools and 
a part of the wainscot burned, and never perceived by any 
in the house, though some lodged in the chamber over- 
head, and no ceiling between. But it pleased God that the 
loss of this linen did her much good, both in taking off her 
heart from worldly comforts, and in preparing her for a far 
greater affliction by the untimely death of her husband, 
who was slain not long after at Isle of Providence." 

17a 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The press mentioned above is plainly not a press cup- 
board, so often occurring in the inventories, but the screw- 
press which is still used in some modern households for 
keeping the linen smooth. The linen must have been ex- 
posed for the maid to be able to drop candle snuff upon it. 
The "boards underneath" also show what it was. 

Skilled craftsmen were among the immigrants, not 
merely carpenters and housewrights, but turners, joiners, 
cabinet-makers and even carvers ; and these men were 
quite capable of making all the furniture in fashion from 
the excellent and varied timber that abounded in the woods. 
The principal woods used were oak, ash, elm, walnut, 
maple and pine. Red cedar also frequently occurs. As 
new fashions were introduced from abroad, they were 
copied here, and the constant arrivals of English and 
foreign workmen rendered importations unnecessary ex- 
cept in the case of what only the rich could afford. Even 
the joiners seem to have produced most of their work to 
order and to have kept a modest stock. As an example, we 
may take David Saywell, who died in Boston in 1672. He 
was an Englishman who came from Salisbury. His goods 
on sale consisted of " new bedsteads, 32 shillings ; 10 joint 
stools and 6 chair frames, ^f 2 ; 24 pairs of iron screws and 
nuts, j^2-8-o; glue, 3 shillings; 2 chests, 3 tables, i cup- 
board, 2 desks, 2 boxes, 2 cabinets and some new work in 
the shop not finished; working tools, a lathe and benches 
in the shop, £^; boards and timber in the yard, j[i4.." 
John Scotton, another joiner of the same township (died 
1678), had in his shop: 4 boxes, 7 shillings; 3 chests, 18 
shillings; 2 bedsteads, ^f 1-12-0; i chest with drawers, ^f 3 ; 
and boards, plank, timber and joiner's tools to the value of 
^20-6-5. Three pounds was quite a high price for a chest 

»73 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of drawers at that day, and shows that it must have been 
an unusually fine piece of workmanship. 

An example of an ornate chest with drawers of native 
manufacture faces page 1 76. It consists of two long 
drawers beneath a roomy well, the whole supported by four 
plain square legs. The ornamentation consists of maple 
or birch applied spindles, stained to imitate ebony, and 
painted panels. The designs are conventional roses and 
leaves of ivory-white and rich red, and the panels are of 
soft wood, as was customary with painted chests made in 
Connecticut and the vicinity during the seventeenth cen- 
tury. Sometimes, in similar specimens, the colouring is blue 
and green. This piece belongs to Mr. Walter Hosmer, 
of Wethersiield, Conn., and has been in the possession of 
the present owner's family for several generations. 

Labour was of course particularly valuable in the new 
colonies. In 1626, the court of Plymouth Colony decreed 
that " no handicrafts men soever as taylors, shoemakers, car- 
penters, joiners, smiths, sawiers, or whatsoever which doe 
or may reside or belong to this plantation of Plimoth shall 
use their science or trads at home or abroad, for any 
strangers or foriners till such time as the necessity of the 
colony be served." In 1630, the rate of skilled labour was 
sixteen pence per day. In 1633, master carpenters, saw- 
yers, joiners, etc., are forbidden to receive above two shil- 
lings per day, "finding themselves dyett," and not above 
fourteen pence if boarded. The joiners who came here 
were not all indentured servants; some were already pros- 
perous tradesmen in England. In 1637, Samuel Dix, joiner, 
left Norwich for Boston with his wife, two children and two 
apprentices, William Storey and Daniel Linsey. In 1635, 
John Davies, aged twenty-nine, arrived in the Increase; 

174 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and Ralph Mason, aged thirty-five, with wife and four chil- 
dren in the Abigail. A joiner named Edward Johnson, 
who was certainly prosperous, arrived two years later from 
Canterbury, with his wife, seven children and three ser- 
vants. Two Salem joiners mentioned in 1665 and 1671 
were Samuel Belknap and John Taylor. 

Although skilled labour was a great desideratum in New 
England, the town authorities were very careful not to 
admit shiftless persons into the community. Somebody had 
to go bail for every new comer who was without visible 
means of support. Numerous instances of this custom ex- 
ist. For example, on August 30, 1680, we read: " I, John 
Usher, of Boston, merchant, bind me unto Captain Thomas 
Brattle, treasurer of the said town in the sum of forty 
pounds that William Smith, joiner, shall not be chargeable 
to the town." Again on December 25, 1680, we find that 
Robert Medlecot, merchant, signed the bond of John Blake, 
joiner. There seems to have been nothing approaching a 
guild, or solidarity, in the various trades: those who went 
on the bond of others were not necessarily of the same 
trades. 

To take a few examples: October 31, 1681, William 
Taylor and Eliakim Hutchinson became sureties to the 
town for John Clarke, cabinet-maker, and Robert Holland, 
joiner, and their families. June 25, 1682, Manasses Beck, 
joiner, is surety for John Hayward, shopkeeper, and family ; 
July 31, 1682, Ebenezer Savage, upholsterer, for John Bur- 
der and family; July 30, 1683, William Killcupp, turner, 
for Roger Killcupp and family ; David Edwards, mariner, 
for William Davis, clockmaker and family ; Joshua Lamb of 
Roxbury, merchant, for John Wolfenderer, upholsterer, and 
family ; October 27, i 684, Thomas Stapleford, chairmaker, 

»7S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

for Thomas Mallet, draper, and family; August 5, 1685, 
Thomas Wyborne and Stephan Sergeant for Joseph Hill, 
varnisher, and family; March 31, 1690, Solomon Rayns- 
ford, joiner, for Edward Morse and family ; May 7, 1 697, 
Jeremiah Bumstead, joiner, for Provided Medwinter and 
family; June 24, 1700, William Crow, trunkmaker, for 
Exercise Connant and family. In a list of persons not ad- 




OAK. CRADLE AND TABLE 
Belonging to the Coffin family. Now owned by the Newburyport Historical Society. 

mitted as inhabitants of Boston in 1683 we find one "Alex- 
ander More, upholsterer, at Philip Squires." 

On this page is shown an oak cradle made in 1680 by 
Sergeant Stephen Jacques for John, the eldest son of Moses 
and Lydia Coffin. The oak table belonged to Joseph 
Coffin of the same family. Both pieces were presented to 
the Newburyport Historical Society by H. and A. Little, 
of Peabody, Mass. Sergeant Jacques was a master work- 
man who built the meeting-house. 

Prosperous joiners and turners were plentiful throughout 
New England. In 1647, Edward Larkin of Charleston, 
turner, sold a tenement. Thomas Roads was a joiner of 

176 




C/3 

< 



SCO 

a- O 



II 



1^ 



r 



' % 1 



I 




i^m 











<3 



CO 






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Uk.. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

local importance at Kittery, Me., in 1680, and his name 
appears in many deeds. Others of that trade in York 
County were Philip Hubhard, Joseph Hill, Nathaniel 
Mendum (Portsmouth), Samuel Brackit, Joseph Harris, 
John Norton, and John Woodbridge of Newbury, who was 
quite wealthy. It must be remembered that the joiner 
was what we now call the cabinet-maker. The latter term 
seldom appears in the records, though, as we have noted, 
John Clarke, cabinet-maker, went to Boston in 1681. 

The brave Phineas Pratt, prominent in the disasters 
that overtook Thomas Weston's colony in Weymouth in 
1622, was a joiner; so also was Kenelm Wynslow, of Ply- 
mouth in 1 634 ; a certain John Jenny was apprenticed to the 
latter for five years, and died in 1672. Others of that craft 
who lived at Boston during the seventeeth century included 
Jacob Fernside, Samuel Chanler, Samuel Clough, Thomas 
Edwards, William Smith, Thomas Hichborne, David Ste- 
phens, Mathew Turner, Richard Draper, George Nicker- 
son, Jacob Halloway, William Wilson, John White, 
William Payne, Thomas Livermore, William Howel, John 
Pricherd, Henry Messenger, Ralph Carter, John Cunnabel 
and Thomas Warren. Henry Messenger was a joiner 
residing in Boston prior to 1640; he died in 168 i, owning 
property appraised at ^^500. To his eldest son John he 
left ** five shillings and no more for reasons best known to 
myself." Another son, Henry, was a joiner also. He died in 
1686 worth ;f 338. His timber, boards, plank, working tools 
and glue at the shop were valued at jf 12-9-6. He did not 
keep any stock. He had an apprentice named Benjamin 
Threadneedle. The records occasionally give us a hint of 
the actual work done by these local tradesmen. Captain 
William Hudson, who seems to have kept an inn, died in 

«77 



THK FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



1690. At that day the public rooms had distinguishing 
names. In this case the rooms were called the " Rose," " An- 
chor," " Castle," and "Swan." The " Castle " and " Swan " 

contained two 
cupboards, each 
appraised at eight 
shillings, made by 
Nathaniel Adams 
of Boston. At 
his death in 1690, 
the latter had ash, 
oak, ironwood and 
lignum-vitae in his 
shop. Thomas 
Livermore had in 
his shop at his 
death in 1710, 
** two cases of 
drawers part made, 
and 100 feet of 
black walnut, 
/2-15-0." Ralph 
Carter (died 
1699) was worth 
£jiy of which his tools and turning-wheel came to ^'6. 
Matthew Smith, turner, and Thomas Webb and Jonathan 
Wardell, joiners, also lived in Boston at the close of the 
century. The latter was quite wealthy, his estate amount- 
ing to ^1,207 at his death in 1721. 

The example, on this page, of an oak court cupboard, 
supposed to have been made by a New England joiner, is 
owned by Mr. George Dudley Seymour, of New Haven, 

178 




COURT CUPBOARD 
Owned by Mr. George Dudley Seymour, New Haven, Conn. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Conn. Ebony was scarce in this country, and therefore 
the black egg ornaments and turned pillars of this piece 
are of white wood stained black to represent this wood. 
However, it is not to be concluded from this fact that every 
specimen with vStained black ornaments is of native make, 
for pieces of English and Flemish make frequently have 
ornaments of pear and other woods stained in imitation of 
ebony. It will be noticed that this specimen is almost 
identical with the one on page 207. 

Although New England possessed such varied and 
bountiful woods, choice foreign timber was not entirely 
despised. Even cedar was brought in from Bermuda and 
used in the construction of chests, and yet mahogany, 
strange to say, was very slow in coming into favour, even if 
it was generally known to the cabinet-makers. It seems to 
have been practically non-existent in Boston till about 
1730, when an occasional table or dressing-box begins to 
appear in the inventories. The amount of furniture made 
in the colonies, however, must have been considerable, 
since it became an article of trade with the southern colo- 
nies, and articles of New England furniture are expressly 
mentioned in the Charleston inventories. Delicate work- 
manship was at the command of the native cabinet-makers. 
Edward Budd, a carver by trade, was living in Boston as 
early as 1678 ; Richard Knight was another who paid his 
tax in 1685, and the names of other members of the same 
craft would reward research. 

A specimen of native carving of this period faces page 
178. It is a panelled oak chest with one drawer, and be- 
longs to Mr. Walter Hosmer, Wethersfield, Conn. 

Another branch of the business was upholstery. Joseph 
Juet, an upholsterer, appears on the Boston tax list for 

•79 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

1688. A set of carpenter's and joiner's tools is found in 
the inventory of many a yeoman, husbandman and trades- 
man, so that much household furniture of the rougher sort, 
such as boards and trestles, forms, benches, settles, stools, 
etc., must have been knocked together for common use by 
many a householder. To be handy with the tools was a 
common accomplishment. Entries in the diary of the 
Rev. Jasper Green, of Salem, at the close of this period, 
show that members of the ministry took pleasure in man- 
ual labor of all kinds. The following are a few examples : 
** 1707, Apr. I, Turned the entry door. Apr. 9, Saml 
Goodale making our clock case. May 6, Very busy fin- 
ishing our clock case. May 9, Coloured our clock case. 
Aug. 11,1 got the mantel-tree." 

In the early part of this century, chairs were the seats 
of the mighty only ; the more prosperous households rarely 
contained more than two or three, and these are usually 
found in the hall. The chair was a seat of ease for rest 
after the day's toil ; it also had a certain dignity, and was 
reserved for the heads of the house. Stools, forms and set- 
tles constituted the ordinary seats. In 1652, the only seats 
in Adam Winthrop's house were four chairs, a settle-chair and 
fourteen stools. Before 1650, the inventories seldom specify 
the kind of chair ; but there were few varieties. The value 
of the ordinary chair was very slight; a common entry in 
the inventories is a trifling sum set down to "wooden 
goods and other lumber," thus contemptuously dismissing 
all the wooden furniture in the house. The cheapest kinds 
of chairs that were considered worth separate appraisement 
were eight pence each, which sum was a joiner's wages for 
about half a day. The prices vary greatly, however. In 
1646, four chairs and six stools come to forty shillings; 

ii(o 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




CARVED OAK CHAIR 
Owned by Mr. Walter Hosmcr, Wethenfield, Conn. 

and in 1652 four small chairs are six shillings, while two 
chairs and a child's chair are five times as much. 

The child's chair was very general. It is noticeable 
that its form has not changed to the present day. It was 
made of oak, and several carved examples of a child's chair 

181 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

with solid back, sides and scat still exist in museums. The 
more usual kind, however, had turned arms, rungs and up- 
rights, and was rush- or sedge-bottomed. A bar was fitted 
into holes at the ends of the arms to keep the child from 
falling out, and a foot-rest was fitted at a convenient height 
as in the modern chairs. William Blanchard (1652) had 
a child's chair which, together with two others, evidently 
of the same make (carved oak probably, considering the 
very high price), was valued at^^*I-Io-o. An example of 
a child's chair faces this page. It was brought from Eng- 
land by Richard Mather in 1635. It long remained in 
the family and was used by Increase, Cotton, and Samuel 
Mather. The foot-rest has been lost, but the holes are still 
visible ; the rod that served to keep the child from falling out 
has also disappeared with time. The chair is now in the 
rooms of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, 
Mass. 

The various kinds mentioned were the ** wainscot," or 
oak, chair with solid sides, seat and back, sometimes plain, 
and sometimes ornamented with carving in relief; the 
turned chair, with massive and ugly legs, rungs and back 
bars; ** matted," "bass," "wicker," "joined," "wrought," 
Turkey-work and leather chairs. With the exception 
of "wainscot," the wood is rarely mentioned, although 
black walnut was rapidly growing in favour as a substitute 
for oak and was soon to take its place. 

An example of the carved oak chair has already been 
given facing page 164. Another without arms, belonging 
to Mr. Walter Hosmer, Wethersfield, Conn., appears on 
page 181. 

The leather chair existed in several varieties and was 
expensive. The seven leather chairs in John Cotton's 




RUSH-BOTTOMED CHAIR 

Originally owntd by Philip Rtid {/6g8) j noiu in the Antiquarian Societj, Concord, Mass. 

Sii pagi i8j. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 





CARVED OAK CHAIR AND CHAIR ORIGINALLY COVERED WITH LEATHER 
From the house of Mr. Charles R. Waters, Salem, Mass 



Great Parlour in 1652 cost ^^3, which was also the value 
of the eight ** red leathered hack chairs and two low 
leather back stools" standing in the parlour of Captain 
William Tinge in 1653; whereas the "seven leather and 
one green chair" in the hall of Major-General Gibbons in 
1654 were worth only ^'i. William Paddy had "eleven 
Russia leather chairs in the hall, at eleven shillings, and five 
others, ;t 3-5-0," in 1658; and six old leather chairs be- 
longing to John Coggan at the same date were together 

183 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 





CANE CHAIR AND CHAIR ORIGINALLY COVERED WITH LEATHER 
Both specimens are owned by Miss Hayes, Cannbridge, Mass. 

valued at twelve shillings. This John Coggan was a mer- 
chant who in 1633 opened the first shop in Boston. In 
1659, Jacob Sheafe's estate included twelve red leather 
chairs, ^^5. The leather chair was therefore worth from 
two to thirteen shillings, and was found only in the best 
houses. The above gentlemen were all wealthy Bostonians. 
The leather chairs were made high and low, with and 
without arms. The high one in its simplest form was 
what is now commonly known as the Venetian chair, and 
was very general throughout Western Europe in the late 
Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. It had a square frame 

184 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and was slightly carved on the front feet, projecting ends 
of the arms, and tops of the back, supports on which the 
leather was fastened with brass studs. The top of the back 
usually rovse in a curved peak and the arms were slightly 
curved and ended in a scroll. The leather back did not 
come all the way down to the seat. The seat was also 
covered with leather fastened down with studs. The arms 
of the owner were often stamped upon the centre of the 
leather back. The low leather chair was still simpler, 
with square frame, the leather leaving the lower part of the 
back open. More elaborate specimens, such as the Spanish 
chairs made of chestnut, had dark brown leather stamped 
with scrolls, birds, animals and floral designs. The frame- 
work was carved with leafwork and scrolls, similar to the 
cane-backed walnut chair, which it closely resembled. 

This stvle of chair has already been fully illustrated in 
Parts I. and II. Two additional examples may be seen 
on pages 183 and 184. These were low leather chairs, 
although now upholstered with modern materials: that on 
page 183, with a carved oak front bar, is now in the home 
of Mr. Charles R. Waters, Salem, Mass. The second one 
on page 1 84 is of somewhat later date and is owned by 
Miss Hayes, in Cambridge, Mass. 

The wicker chair of woven willow and other pliant 
twigs occurs quite early. It was cushioned and luxurious, 
and worth as much as a good leather chair. In 1652, 
John Cotton's wicker chair was set down at six shillings 
and eight pence, — eight pence more than his four bass 
chairs. Four shillings was the sum credited to another 
belonging to William Paddy six years later. In Henry 
Webb's bedroom (1660) was a wicker chair and cushion, 
^^'0-5-0. In 1646, Christopher Stanley had "one Cabbin 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




@«^»ES— 



RUSH-BOTTOM AND CANE CHAIRS 



The central one transformed into a rocking chair. Owned by the Connecticut Historical Society, 
Hartford, Conn. 



and one wicker chair, ^i-io-o," — an exceedingly high 
price. 

The bass-bottomed chair was worth from one to two, 
the "mat" chair from two to three, and the joined chair 
from four to five shillings. The value of the "sedge" 
chair was about eighteen pence. Rush-, reed- and sedge- 
bottomed chairs were very plentiful and popular. 

The rush-bottomed chair was often painted green, the 
fashion having been brought in by the English settlers from 
Leyden. In North Holland this "green" chair was uni- 
versally used during the seventeenth century, and the name 
frequently occurs in the New England inventories. Another 
green chair often mentioned, however, is of quite a different 
nature and far more costly. 

Examples of rush-bottomed chairs are shown facing 



i86 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




RUSH-BOTIOM, TURNED AND CANE CHAIRS 
Owned by the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Conn. 



page 184 and on pages 186 and 187. The one facing page 
184 originally belonged to Philip Reed (1698) and is now 
in the Antiquarian Society, Concord, Mass. It is an early 
example of the "wing chair." The back and sides are 
covered with a gay flowered cretonne. The rush-bottomed 
chair with back of slats painted black, on this page, be- 
longed to the Stanley family of Connecticut and is now 
owned by the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, 
Conn. The central chair on this page is an oak turned 
chair of the vseventeenth century, clumsy and heavy ; to the 
right of this is a cane chair that came from the VVyllys 
home. Charter Oak. It is interesting to compare this with 
one of Penn's chairs on page 85. These specimens are in 
the possession of the Connecticut Historical Society, Hart- 
ford, Conn., which also owns the pieces represented on page 
1 86. The one in the centre is an old chair. It has been 

l«7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

transformed into a rocking chair in the rudest manner and 
feeble arms painted black have been added. The chair to 
its right has four splats rounded at the back and cut flat in 
front. The third chair is rush-bottomed with split balus- 
ters in the back. 




CANE CHAIRS 
Owned. by the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass. 



The three chairs from the American Antiquarian So- 
ciety, Worcester, Mass., are also typical forms of this period. 

In some of the wealthier houses, the severe form of 
chair that had to be made really comfortable with a cushion 
was supplemented by another kind that made its way into 
England from Venice. The chairs were upholstered on 
the arms, seat and back, and the legs were made in the 

188 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

shape of" a curved X. Many examples of this style of chair 
are to be seen in the seventeenth-century pictures. The 
chairs were accompanied with stools and often with foot- 
stools, also supported by the curved X legs, and with vStufFed 
seats. Two armchairs and six stools made up the set, and 
an upholstered sofa, or couch, often went with it. These 
were certainly brought into New England before 1650, and 
the favourite colours in which the pieces were upholstered 
were red, green and blue. Captain William Tinge ( 1653) 
had in his hall ** one great green chair, six high back chairs 
and two low back chairs, and one old green elbo chair all 
cased, j[6" ; and "one green couch laid with a case, 
j^*2-io-o." In another room there was **a great cushion 
for a couch, j^ i." These high prices show that the arti- 
cles belonged to the class of sumptuous furniture. An in- 
teresting example of a couch of cane, with an armchair 
the seat of which should be cane like the back, appears on 
page 190. These pieces originally belonged to the 
Bulkeley family and are owned by the Antiquarian Societv, 
Concord, Mass. The hall of Major-General Gibbons 
( 1654) contained one green and seven leather chairs valued 
at j[i. Velvet and damask were the materials used in 
upholstering these chairs. William Paine (1660) had 
four red stools and two red cloth chairs with fringe. 
Major-General Gibbons possessed ten yellow damask chairs 
which, although old, were worth ^^4-1 0-0. In the inven- 
tory of the late Comfort Starr of Boston (1659) a "great 
damask chair" also occurs. The hall chamber of Henry 
Webb (1660) contained "seven green chairs and stools, 
four with fringes and three with galloone, j^*3-io-o;" and 
twelve leather chairs, six low and six high, j^'4-4-0. Thevse 
"green" chairs were therefore in the same class with the 

1I9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




CANE COUCH AND ARMCHAIR 
Owned by the Bulkeley family, now by the Antiquarian Society, Concord, Mass. 



finest Russia-leather chairs of the day and must not be 
confounded with the Dutch green rush-bottomed chairs. 

The Turkey-work chair was also in use before 1650. 
It was equal in value to the best leather chair. In 1658, 
William Paddy had two, valued at sixteen shillings each; 
but it became cheaper before long. Its bright-coloured 
worsted designs made it very popular and, as chairs came 
into common use during the second half of the century, it 
was found in almost every household. 

As we have seen, the stools which accompanied the 
chairs sometimes had cross legs, curved or straight, and 
padded seats covered with the same material as the chairs. 
The edges were usually fringed. 

The buffet (not tuffet), the seat occupied by Little Miss 
Muffet of nursery-rhyme fame, has nothing to do with the 



190 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

other buffet (spelt beaufait and beaufitt in the inventories 
on its appearance late in the century) and must be carefully 
distinguished from it. In i6i i Cotgrave had defined the 
French word scabeau as a "buffit or joined stool to sit on." 
In Skinner's Etymologtcon (1671) it is described as "a light 
seat without arms or back, indeed it may easily supply the 
place of a table." It usually had four turned legs with con- 
necting stretchers close to the ground, and thus resembled 
a miniature table. 

Governor Thomas Dudley's parlour chamber (1653) 
contained "a chair and two buffet stools and cover for chair, 
seventeen shillings; two green buffet stools, a livery cup- 
board and cloth, fourteen shillings." Other stools were the 
joint stools, and low and high stools. These had three or 
four legs, and were often made comfortable with cushions. 
Dudley's parlour contained "six joine stools, three chairs 
and ten cushions." 

John Cotton (1652) had 26 chairs, including a little 
table chair, about 30 stools, 6 forms, and a couch. Cap- 
tain Tinge's seats consisted of one form, one couch, 18 
chairs and 20 stools. The latter were in considerable variety, 
consisting of 4 back stools, 4 low stools, 2 low stools with 
blue covers, 2 low stools with leather backs, 6 high Tur- 
key-work stools, and 2 low leather stools. Thus stools 
were upholstered with the same material as chairs, and the 
addition of backs makes it hard to draw a sharp line be- 
tween stools and chairs. 

The foot-stool is seldom mentioned : Thomas Thatcher 
has a cricket in 1686. 

During the second half of the century, chairs became 
much more plentiful, and a prosperous home contained a 
great variety while the stools gradually diminished in num- 

i9l 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ber. In 1656, the wealthy Robert Keayne had only 
half a dozen chairs in the house, the other seats being 
stools and forms. Henry Shrimpton (1666) owned forty- 
two chairs and twenty-four stools. Antipas Boyse (1669) 
had forty-seven chairs and twenty-one stools. The varie- 
ties in these two houses included leather work with backs, 
low leather, Turkey-work, arm, wicker, low green, turned, 
low, child's, and matted high chairs; forty-two of the eighty- 
nine being some form of leather. The stools were joint, 
leather, wrought, and "cushion." In 1672, William Whit- 
tingham possessed forty-two chairs and but two wrought 
stools. These included fourteen Turkey-work, eight Russia 
leather, six calves' leather, one child's high, large arm, six 
low chairs with covers and silk fringes and "six covered 
with bayes." Richard Bellingham's stools were six and his 
chairs twenty-six in number in the same year. Among 
them were eight turned chairs with sedge bottoms and two 
cushions. 

In 1675, Captain Scarlet had 6 Turkey-work, 2 wicker, 
I great wicker, 3 blue, 6 red, 6 high leather, and 10 red 
damask chairs. No stools are mentioned in his house, nor 
in those of John Freack (1675] and Nathan Raynsford 
(1676) who possessed forty-five and twenty-five chairs 
respectively. 

In 1677, Hanna Douglas has seven serge and four small 
green chairs, and Hope Allen has a large and a small green 
chair and two green stools, worth j^' 1-3-0. 

No stools are in the inventory of Humphrey Warren 
(1680), nor of Jeremiah Gushing (1681): their chairs 
numbered sixty-three and fifty-one. John Wensley (1686) 
owned sixty-two chairs and six stools; Captain Thomas 
Berry (1697) fifty chairs and one stool; and Robert Brons- 

192 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR F^OREFATHERS 

den (1702), sixty-nine chairs. The chairs and stools 
upholstered in red, green and blue are found in the best 
houses until the end of the century. In 1691 Dr. Jonathan 
Avery has "two red buffet stools wrought," twelve shil- 





CARVED OAK CHAIR FROM NOVA SCOTIA AND CHAIR (CANE AND 

OAK) FROM THE WYLLYS HOME 

Both tpecimeru are owned by Mre. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. See pagr 194. 

lings; and four green ones, sixteen shillings. The cheaper 
"green" chair also lingers: John White {1690) has "Six 
green flag bottom chairs," nine shillings. The material 
with which the seats were upholstered was often hand- 
worked: John Clarke (1691) had five needlework chairs 
worth five shillings each. There was more than one variety 

«93 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of the Turkey-work, chair. Besides a cushioned armchair 
in Robert Bronsden's hall (1702), there were "six Turkey- 
work chairs," best sort, ^3, and twelve ditto, worst sort, 
j^3- 1 2-0. A very handsome carved oak chair, the seat of 
which was originally cane like the back, was brought by 
Bishop Wainwright from Nova Scotia. This is owned by 
Mrs. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. On the same plate is 
a cane chair of the period. This belonged to the Wyllys 
family, at Charter Oaky and is also owned by Mrs. 
Wainwright. A similar chair from Charter Oak, be- 
longing to the same set, appears on page 187. The cane 
of these is particularly fine and gives a handsome effect. 

The chair towards the end of the century is losing its 
rigid lines and submitting to the curves, sometimes gro- 
tesque, of the Dutch cabinet-makers. The turned legs with 
"Spanish feet," sometimes straight and sometimes scrolled, 
gradually develop well-defined knees and become cabriole 
legs with hoof and similar feet, at the same time dispensing 
with the curved front rail and turned straining-rails. The 
cane frame of the back is first divided in half by a central 
vertical bar, then the cane on either side disappears, leaving 
the splat, which is then rendered ornamental by cutting it 
into various forms. A glance at page 1 84 and page 1 86 
will show this development. Presently the jar shape splat 
becomes the favourite ; this is then pierced and carved, 
gradually following much the same course as Gothic win- 
dow tracery. Meantime, the carved top sinks into simple 
curves that also develop into more elegant forms of the 
bow shape. The French Renaissance is rapidly making its 
influence felt in the second half of the century, and the 
Dutch are applying the squat forms they receive from the 
Orient. The carved oak period has passed and the cabriole 

194 




SETTLE WITH FOLDING CANDLESTAND 

Fr0m the TaUott House. Owned by Mrt. H'atHivhght^ Hart/or J, Conn. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

leg, bombe shapes, and hoof and ball-and-claw feet are 
obtainable by those who like the new style. It is difficult 
to trace its coming in default of contemporary notice, but 
the change was by no means violent or sudden. A book 
had been published as early as 1550, by Jacques Androuet, 
in which there was a good deal of what we now call 
Pompeian design, although it did not become fashionable 
till the discovery of the buried city nearly two centuries 
later. In Androuet's book we also find a good deal of 
what is now styled "Louis C^atorze." Moreover, the leg 
of a table or a chair ending in an eagle's or dog's claw, and 
ornamented at the top with a low-relief acanthus leaf, is 
there exactly. Androuet also uses for ornamentation what 
Chippendale called ** terms." Attention to these facts is 
drawn bv Heaton in his Furniture and Decoration in England 
During the Eighteenth Century (London 1890—93). 

Finally we have forms, settles, settle-chairs and table- 
chairs or chair-tables. The settle with its high back, 
pulled beside or in front of the fire, was a welcome shield 
against the bitter winter gusts that penetrated the wooden 
walls of the ordinary house. One of these, with folding 
candlestand, was long in the Talcott house, Hartford. 
This is shown facing page 194. It is owned by Mrs. 
Wain Wright, Hartford, Conn. The settle was frequently 
carved and sometimes had a well, or a drawer, in the seat. 
Cushions often added to its comfort. A small settle was 
worth six shillings in 1652. A settle with drawers was 
appraised at one pound on the death of Thomas Scottow 
in 1 66 1. Occasionally a ** settle chair " is mentioned. The 
small settle was sometimes a combination table and settle, 
the back turning on a pin and forming the table-top, like 
the chair-table which was found in many houses (see page 

•9S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

159). William Liidkin possessed an old chair-table valued 
at two shillings and six pence in 1652. In 1658, John 
Coggan had in his parlour " two table chairs, eight shil- 
lings " ; and Francis Chickering of Dedham in the same 
year had a chair table, ^2 ; so that the value of this ar- 
ticle of furniture varies surprisingly, the difference being 
doubtless due to carved or inlaid ornamentation. A valu- 
able settee (;^2) is found among the household goods of 
William Bartlett of Hartford, in 1658. A fine Turkey- 
work settee of this period faces page 198. This was 
brought to Salem from Normandy by a Huguenot family 
about 1686. It is owned by the heirs of John Appleton 
and is now in the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. The 
frame is oak and the colours of the Turkey-work are rose, 
blue, buff and light brown, curiously mixed with green, 
magenta and black. 

Twenty years ago the average house was severe and 
bare so far as cushions were concerned ; a soft cushion in 
a chair or on a sofa was a rarity. The taste for everything 
Oriental has changed all that, and hard horsehair has been 
practically banished, but we have only returned to the lik- 
ings of our Puritan forefathers after all. 

The stiffness and severity of the carved oak furniture 
was, as we have seen, greatly relieved by cushions. These 
are found in profusion in all the comfortable homes. 
There were cushions on the window-seat, on the chairs, on 
the settles, on the stools, and even on the cupboards. They 
were stuffed with down, feathers, flock, cat-tails and any- 
thing at hand that would serve. The coverings and cases 
for these cushions were even more varied than the filling. 
The ordinary cushion was worth about a shilling, and in 
1666 feathers were worth eleven pence per pound. Henry 

196 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Shrimpton possessed 834 pounds at that price. It is there- 
fore evident that the shilling cushion did not contain feath- 
ers. John George of Watertown (1646) had 11 cushions, 
jf i-io-o, kind not specified. Some of the materials with 
which cushions were covered appear from the following en- 
tries ; 2 Turkey-work cushions, i 646 ; 3 gilt do, ^0-8-0, 
1650; 5 Turkey-work do, j^i-2-6, 1652. Captain 
Tinge owned (1653) "6 raught window cushions in the 
presse, ^^2-0-0 ; 6 green do, j^'0-18-0; 6 Turkey do, 
j(,'o-i8-o; a great cushion for the couch, j[i ; 2 P^^^ 
window cushions, j[2 ; i velvet window do, ^^0-12-0; 
and 10 old cushions, j^o-i6-o." Simon Eire (1653) had 
6 cushions, j[2 ; i window do, 5 pieces of stuff for i i 
cushions and 2 pieces of fringe, ^'i-i 3-0. Major-General 
Gibhons had 3 i cushions, including " i 1 window cushions, 
4 damask, 4 velvet, 2 leather, i Turkey-work, ^i-io-o." 
Anne Hibbins ( 1656) owned a green say cushion ; a " vio- 
let pinckt cushion, three shillings ; " a velvet do, ten shil- 
lings ; and a " wrought cushion with gold, five shillings." 
The material with which the cushions were covered fre- 
quently matched the curtains and valance, especially in the 
rich stuffs. The '* carpets " and " cupboard cloths " were 
sometimes uniform also with the cushions and curtains. 
Needlework on the material was highly prized, and the 
ladies found time for much work of that nature. The 
above Anne Hibbins had in addition to her cushions: ** a 
wrought cupboard cloth or great cushion cloth, green say 
valance, i green cupboard cloth with silk fringe, i green 
wrought do with do (^^2), i wrought valliants, 5 painted 
calico curtains and valence, i cupboard cloth with fringe, 
and I wrought Holland cupboard cloth." Bridget Busby 
(1660) had 8 cushions, and 2 needlework cushions worth 

«97 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

twice as much as all the others together. She also owned 
one wrought tester valued at ^2-4-0. This sum was 
more than the total of the furniture of her room, which 
consisted of a table and form, a round table, two chairs, a 
stool, two covered stools, six pictures, a great chest, and- 
irons, and " some odd trifles over the door." Among 
Henry Webb's twenty-seven cushions, we note six green 
cushions mixed with yellow, velvet do, fringed and 
wrought do ; and ** six needlework cushions wrought, four 
drawn to work, and muskada ends, etc., ^10." The value 
of the last item is almost incredibly high. Leonard Hoar 
had live hair cushions in 1675. 

Tables in New England before 1650 may be disposed 
of in a few words. The "table and tressells" of Joseph 
Weld, of Roxbury, was worth three shillings and six pence. 
Ten shillings was sufficient to buy the ** plank table and 
another small one" in the hall of Thomas Lamb of the 
same town ; in his parlour was a " framed table and one 
joyned stool, ^0-13-4." Another fellow-townsman, John 
Scarbarrow, who died the same year (1646), owned a 
"table and form, j^o-14-0;" and John George, of Water- 
town (also 1646) had three tables valued at fifteen shillings. 
The tables in the hall of Alice Jones, of Dorchester (1642), 
were "a great table bord and form" and a "short table- 
board" worth fourteen and two shillings respectively. The 
above were the simplest kinds of table. 

Tables had been used hitherto as a word to signn^ writing- 
tablets. A familiar instance of this use is Hamlet's cry, " My 
tables, my tables, — meet it is I set it down." Board was the 
familiar name for the table and it lingered in New Eng- 
land, as in the above examples, after it had almost disap- 
peared in the old country. The Elizabethan tables were 

198 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

generally boards hinged in the middle for convenience of 
setting aside when not in use. These boards were sup- 
ported by trestles. Trestle is the same as ** threstule," the three- 
legged stand which, as we have seen, was the single seat for 
all but the heads of the household. It was sometimes 
carved. The permanent was the "framed" table, the legs 
of which were connected by stretchers close to the floor. 
The early table, or board, was about thirty inches wide, and 
the old custom of sitting only on one side was still kept up 
in many houses. The "table and form" makes this evi- 
dent. During the reign of Charles the Martyr, broader 
tables came into use, and the great stationary "folding" 
and drawing-tables also made their appearance in many 
homes. The folding-table had from twelve to twenty 
legs, leaves being added on legs that drew out from the 
ends and sides, as in a modern folding table. The draw, 
or drawing, table was made of solid oak ; it was very mas- 
sive, the legs having the enormous acorn-shaped Dutch 
ornament. It was inlaid with pear wood in geometrical 
designs, stained black (see page 63). A handsome table 
of this kind is owned by Dr. James Read Chadwick, of 
Boston, Mass. It is 70 inches long, 30 inches high and 32 
inches broad. The extensions that draw out from under- 
neath are the same width as the table and 3 1 inches in 
length. In Captain Tinge's parlour (1653) was "one draw- 
ing table, £2;'" and in his hall were " two tables one form, 
j^2." These tables therefore were quite expensive. Gover- 
nor Dudley's parlour (1653) contained a "table and frame 
and 6 joine stools and a carpet, j^'5-4-0 "; but this exceeding- 
ly high valuation may have been due to the "carpet." There 
were other tables of smaller size, both square and round ; an 
example even of an octagonal table, dated 1 606, belongs to 

199 



THE FUR^NITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the Carpenters' Company in London. A little leaf table, 
j£o-S-Oy was in Simon Eire's inner hall (1658). Jacob 
Elliott and Grace Brown ( 165 1 ) both had round tables; and 
John Cotton (1652) a small square one; he had eleven 
tables in his house. 

Small square, round, and oval tables became much more 




OVAL TABLE OF OAK. 
In the house of Mr. Charles R. Waters, Salem, Mass. See page 2oa. 



numerous in the second half of the century. The round 
table varied greatly in value, showing that it was made of 
many woods and in several sizes. In 1660, one cost four 
shillings, and another three pounds. Antipas Boyse (1669) 
had a small table with drawers, six shillings. In 1670, 
William Wardell's round table with one drawer was worth 
hfteen shillings. The **long" and the "drawing" table 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

were constantly found. Besides oak, walnut and cedar 
were the usual woods. In 1669, a long cedar table is 
appraised at j^'i-15-0, and in 1672, a square walnut ditto 
at jf I. A cedar table costs ^'i, and fifteen shillings is the 
value of another of "Burmodos" cedar in 1680. The 
Spanish table was in great favour in this second period : in 




OVAL TABLE 
Owned by Mn. John Manhall Holcombe, Hartford, Conn. See page 201. 



1676, we find one at twelve shillings, and in 1679, two for 
sixteen shillings. The side table appears early in the sec- 
ond half of the century. It was not always an additional 
table in the dining-room, but often a small bedroom table. 
Robert CJibbs's Great Chamber contained four. In Humphrey 
Warren's Red Chamber ( 1680) there was a side table, and 
his Hall Chamber also contained a small one. These three 
chambers were bedrooms. I'he dining-room contained four 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

small square tables and carpets, — a departure from the usual 
custom of the big table. It would seem that it was now 
the fashion to have several small instead of one great table 
There were two in the hall and three in the dining-room 
of Sir William Phipps. The sideboard table is also found 
about this time as an adjunct to the great table. In 1683, 
John Winslow's hall contains a square table and a sideboard 
table of red cedar. The oval table becomes more frequent 
towards the end of the century. Captain Thomas Berry 
owns three in 1 697, one at seven shillings and two worth 
^i-15-o. An oval table of oak, of rough work, faces 
page 182. It has falling leaves, the legs are strength- 
ened by tenons, and the pegs that hold it together are 
wooden. The design is now popularly called the "but- 
terfly table." The piece is in the Wayside Inn, Sudbury. 

Throughout the Stuart period there were two kinds of 
oval tables. They were of the '* falling" variety, having leaves 
that could be let down so that the table should take up 
little room when standing against the wall. The legs were 
almost invariably turned in spirals or beads and had con- 
necting stretchers. Sometimes the side legs pulled out as 
supports, and at other times the leaves had simple bracket 
supports. Examples of each kind may be seen on pages 
200 and 201. These are sometimes called to-day ** thou- 
sand-legged" tables. (See also page 11.) Besides oak, 
pine and black walnut, the oval table sometimes occurs 
in cedar. 

Beds were the most important articles of furniture in the 
early homes; they were decorative and luxurious. The 
great post bedstead, with the trundle bed below that pulled 
out on rollers, was found in innumerable homes. The 
trundle, or truckle, bed in baronial days was a couch of little 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

honour, being occupied by a personal attendant for protec- 
tion. It was a servile resting-place: 

" He that is beaten may be said 
'To lie in Honour s truckle bed** 

The children doubtless slept in it in New England. 

These great beds, with their posts carved and swelling 
into acorn-shaped mavsses of ornamentation, are no longer 
to be found in this country; if a single specimen has 
escaped devStruction, it has escaped the writer's search. An 
illustration, however, appears as the frontispiece of Part I. 
The modern taste for hard bedding would have amazed 
our forefathers, who would have stuffed their ticking with 
sunvset cloudlets if they could have procured them. As it was, 
they had to be contented with down, feathers, fur, flock, 
hair, silk grass, cat-tails and straw. The long bolster and 
two pillows to each bed were filled with the same and cased 
with fair linen. Sheets of canvas, Holland and other linen 
were added and then came blankets, rugs and quilts galore. 
From rods under the head, curtains hung generally by 
hooks ; but rings also were used, since one entry reads ** 9 
dozen curtain rings, four shillings and six pence." 

The value of the wooden framework of the bed was 
always a very small proportion of that of the whole, as is 
clear from an early example — that of Joseph Miriam of 
Concord ( 1640). He had three bedsteads, fifteen shillings; 
I feather and 6 flock beds, ^^2-10-0; 2 pairs of curtains, 
^4-10-0; and a pair of linen curtains, ^'i. Again, Edward 
Wood of Charlestown had a bed with curtain, valance and 
rods, ;i5-i5-o; a truckle bed, one crown. Thomas Cort- 
more of the same town (1645) owned a "bedstead with 
trundle bedstead, matts and cord, ^i-io-o." For this, he 
had down bedding worth twice as much. The hangings, 

»03 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

which matched the window curtains, consisted of one pair 
of striped silk curtains and valance, which, with five window 
curtains and five window, cupboard and chimney cloths, 
amounted to j[^. His bed coverings included one silk, red 
and blue quilt, ^'i-6-o; one red and green silk do, ^2- 
lo-o; and one tapestry coverlet, ^^ 1-6-0. Such elegance 
may be considered somewhat excessive for a " lodge in some 
vast wilderness," but it is perfectly evident that the wealthy 
settlers carried their luxury with them into the virgin 
woods, just as the Romans did into their barbarian conquests. 
Mr. Cortmore is by no means an exceptional case. Mary 
Hudson's beds (1651) further show the relative value of 
bedstead and hangings: two standing and one trundle bed- 
stead, ^i-io-o; one pair of say curtains and valance, ^i- 
5-0; one pair of striped ditto, ^i-o-o; one "tapstree" 
covering, ;^'3-o-o. Joseph Weld's " darnell " coverlet, ^^i ; 
and two little old yellow blankets, ^2-16-0, are also 
astonishingly large sums in comparison with the contem- 
porary value of the best chairs, tables and " cupboards.** 
Robert Turner's two bedsteads and iron rods, ^^2-5-0, with 
two trundle bedsteads, ^0-6-8, also look small beside his 
pair of curtains and valance, ^^2-15-0, and one flock and 
three feather beds and bedding, ^^15. The rugs, blankets 
and coverlids were as valuable and choice as the hangings. 
An East Indian quilt costs ^i-io-o, and a silk shag rug, 
j^3, which was also the value of two home-made coverlids. 
Richard Lord of Hartford at the close of the century had 
a silk cradle quilt, two silk striped blankets, and three other 
blankets of white silk, watered silk, and double satin. 
Henry Webb's bedstead and bedding, with green curtains, 
green rug and coverlid with lace and fringe, was estimated 
at j^24 in 1660; probably these were the richest materials 

ao4 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

employed. In the same year, Martha Coggan had a suit 
of East India curtains, £y ; a blue calico quilt, ^^'i-io-o; 
a pair of purple curtains and valance, ^j ; and blue ditto, 
j^'2-10-0. Samuel Maverick's suit of blue serge curtains 
(1664) came to ^^^4. Other curtains mentioned are linsey- 
vvolsey (which were about three shillings a pair), linen 
"green," "blue," yellow damask, "striped," "red," red 
bay, green say, and shalloon (twelve shillings). In 1658, 
a new suit of watchet serge curtains and valance cost j[6 ; 
and a pair of silk ditto, j^'3. Hangings of gilt leather are 
also found in some houses. Screens are also very common 
as an additional protection against draughts, and in some 
cases portieres were used. Captain Berry, in 1697, had "a 
curtain and rod for a skreen, fifteen shillings." The screens 
were made of leather, painted canvas and painted buckram. 
They had two, three and four leaves. In 1654, we find 
"six pieces of painted buckram, ^{'3." 

The home-made coverlid (from the French couvre 
lit) mentioned above may have been woven, instead of 
being made by one of the many processes of skilled needle- 
work, for spinning-wheels were found in the great majority 
of homes, and the loom also often occurs. Twelve shillings 
was the value of the loom in Joseph Weld's study in 1646. 
In 1640, English mohair cost three shillings per yard, 
and green serge four pence more. Painted calicoes and 
other products of Eastern looms became popular later in 
the century. "Cheney" was then worth about two 
shillings per yard. 

The cupboard was originally exactly what the name 
implies, — a board on which cups were displayed. The 
cups and other vessels used at table were of pewter and 
silver ; and silver plate in respectable quantity was found 

105 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

in every home of moderate or ample means. The "salt" 
was often an imposing piece of plate. George Phillips 
( 1644), whose estate amounted to ^^553, owned ** a silver 
salt with spoons, ^^4." Thomas Cortmore of Charles- 
town (1645) owned 106 ounces of plate, ^23-17-0. Silver 
plate at that date therefore was worth four shillings and 
six pence an ounce, and George Phillips's salt and vspoons 
must have weighed about eighteen ounces. John Holland 
(1652) had six pounds' worth of plate, and in the same 
year Adam Winthrop's consisted of a silver tankard, ^5 ; 
a beer bowl, two wine bowls and a caudle cup, ^7 ; two 
silver sugar dishes, ^2-10-0 ; a little silver salt and a dram 
cup, sixteen shillings; and twelve silver spoons, ^3. He 
also had a stone jug tipped with silver, ^i ; and a toast- 
ing iron tipped with silver, ten shillings. Governor Dud- 
ley's 80^ ounces of plate was valued at five shillings and two 
pence per ounce in 1653, and Jacob Sheafe's i 18 ounces at 
live shillings in 1659; thus the price varied with the 
years. Adam Winthrop's twelve spoons were probably 
what are still so highly prized as "Apostles' Spoons." In 
1656, Anne Hibbins had "four silver spoons, one with a 
gilt head, a great silver porringer, a silver tankard, and two 
silver wine bowls that weighed 39 oz. at five shillings, a gilt 
salt, two gilt wine bowls, one silver beaker, one beer bowl, 
two saucers, a silver salt, four gilt spoons with ten silver 
spoons with Pictures of Apostles gilt and one caudle cup 
at five shillings and eight pence per oz. which weighed 34 
oz. 3^ gilt." Enough has been said therefore to show that 
there was ample use for the cupboard. 

A typical example of a New England court cupboard 
appears on the next page. This belonged to Gregory 
Stone, of Cambridge, Mass., about 1 660, and is now owned 

206 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

by the Antiquarian Society, Concord, Mass. Unfor- 
tunately it has been painted black, and some brass drop 
handles have been added. It is similar to the court cup- 
board on page 178. 




OAK COURT CUPBOARD 

Owned by Gregory Stone (1660). Owned by the Antiquarian Society, 
Concord, Mau. 

The early varieties were the "livery" and the "court * 
cupboard. The livery cupboard in general appearance 
much resembled the altar and super-altar in the high church 
of the present day (see also pages 22 and 36, regarding 
this piece of furniture). The cupboard cloths, often fringed, 
fell over the ends, not the front, of the various stages. On 

S07 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

these vStages, or shelves, the plate was displayed. Sometimes 
hooks were driven along the edges of the shelves, and cups, 
mugs and jugs were hung on them. The arrangement was 
exactly similar to the dresser in many a modern kitchen ; 
in fact the "dresser" of that day still exists downstairs. In 
England it is universal. To guard against theft, doors were 
added above and below, and thus the "court" cupboard 
was developed. The fronts of these pieces of furniture were 
decorated in a variety of ways with inlay, carving, panels 
and superposition of split columns and studs stained black. 
The cupboard was found in all sizes and varieties and the 
value had a wide range. The appraisers described it vari- 
ously. We find : one small cupboard and chest of drawers, 
j{'i-i6-o (1645); a great cupboard; a table and cupboard, 
^2; a table-cupboard, twelve shillings (all 1646); a livery 
cupboard, ^i-io-o (1650); a side cupboard, eighteen 
pence; another "with a presse," ^i-io-o; a chest and a 
little cupboard, both with drawers, ^3-10-0; "a cort cup- 
board, cloth and voider, ;{'i," 2 presses, ^^i (all 1652); a 
plain livery cupboard, ten shillings ( 1653); a prevss cupboard, 
^1-4-0 ( 1654) ; a court cupboard with one drawer, sixteen 
shillings, a sideboard cupboard, twelve shillings; and a side 
cupboard, fifteen shillings (all 1658). In the lower part 
of this cupboard, or sideboard as we should now term it, 
one or more drawers frequently occurred. Then came the 
"table" or first stage, the superstructure not being as deep 
as the lower part. Sometimes the upper part ran straight 
across parallel with the front, and sometimes the corners 
were cut off, making the shape like half a hexagon (see 
facing page 36 and frontispiece to this number). Many 
examples of these varieties still exist. 

The cupboards were of all sizes, and in and on them 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

were kept articles of glass, earthenware, and china, besides 
plate; and cushions as well as cloths were used to adorn 
them. John Barrell, who died in 1658, had in his par- 
lour a court cupboard and cloth and small cushion, ^1-5-0; 
and "earthenware, glasses, etc., upon the cubbard head 
and in the cubbard and shelf, fifteen shillings." 

The cupboard cloths were of damask or diaper. Some- 
times the cupboard was garnished with a carpet, in which 
case the material frequently matched the window curtains 
and bed hangings, or was of Turkey-work. Abiell Everell 
(1661) had a cupboard and a sideboard (;f 2-5-0), "a cup- 
board carpet suted to ye hangings" and eight shillings' 
worth of Leghorn earthenware. 

Many varieties of the cupboard are found during the 
second half of the century. It became an indispensable 
article of furniture in every comfortable home, and four or 
five are frequently found in one house. The prices cover 
a wide range, and there are very many varieties. The 
woods of which they were made were usually oak or wal- 
nut, though pine was used in the commonest kinds. At 
the date when New England was first settled, Sir Francis 
Bacon writes : '* Some trees are best for cupboards, as 
walnut." The court and livery cupboard soon developed 
into other forms as the century advanced by the addition 
of drawers, etc., at the separate stages, and in some cases 
the lower part was thrown back, leaving the second to be 
supported by pillars (see page 169). The numerous vari- 
eties evidently bred confusion in the minds of the various 
appraisers, for we find the latter describing these articles 
of furniture with great latitude. It is plain that the word 
cupboard was generic rather than specific and needed quali- 
fying phrases for clear understanding. Thus William Paddy 

ao9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

has a sideboard cupboard, twelve shillings, and a large cup- 
board chest with drawers, J^2y and Thomas Buttolph, a 
cupboard and chest table (1667), £(). The difference in 
value of the above pieces is worthy of note, as it shows a 
great variety of material, size and workmanship. Mr. 
Paddy's large cupboard chest with drawers must have been 
similar in character to the beautiful piece of furniture 
facing this page. It is made of oak, the long top 
drawer being veneered with snake wood, as are the central 
ornaments of the panels and the side terminals. The dark 
red of the snake wood affords rich contrast to the oak. 
The knobs are ivory, the handles metal. This is owned 
by Mr. Walter Hosmer, Wethersfield, Conn. 

In 1666, John Biggs owns a press cupboard, j^i-io-o; 
Nicholas Upshall, a small livery cupboard with drawers, 
^o-io-o; John Baker, two cupboards with drawers, ^'4; 
Henry Shrimpton, a livery cupboard, ^3 ; and John 
Brackett, a livery cupboard and furniture, ^^3, and a cup- 
board and cloth and things on it, ^7. In 1667, Benjamin 
Richards has a sideboard cupboard, ^i-io-o; William 
Cheny, "a great cubberd, j^i-io-o, a little ditto, ^^0-7-6." 
William Wardell (1670) owns a joined cupboard, j^i, a 
** Livory cubbard, ^^0-15-0, and a side cubbard, a slight 
one, j^'0-2-6." William Whittingham (1672) has a side- 
board cupboard, ^i-io-o, and John Winthrop (1673) ^ 
cupboard of drawers. The dresser was a form of the livery 
cupboard, but the former word rarely occurs in the inven- 
tories. In 1676, a cupboard and a small dresser were in 
Mary Minott's hall. The cupboard contained plate worth 
^10- 1 3-0. Dr. Jonathan Avery (1690) had a small cup- 
board on a frame. Thus there were considerable changes 
and developments in this important piece of furniture as 




CUPBOARD CHEST OF DRAWERS 

Oak inlaid with snakrwood. OtvneJ by Mr. fVaiter Hojmfr, ffetherj/ieU, Conn. 



Ste page 210. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

time passed. The simpler forms had become quite anti- 
quated by the end of the century. A cupboard belonging 
to Captain Thomas Berry, in 1697, is described as "old- 
fashioned." In some of the wealthiest houses we find the 
cupboard absent, so that it may have been going out of 
fashion. It will be noticed that it does not appear among 
the possessions of Sir William Phipps, Of the very wealthy, 
John Freack (1675) also possessed no cupboard. 

The above examples are from the Boston records ; the 
Hartford lists show a similar variety. 

This brings us to the press, which now appears occa- 
sionally in the inventories. People were rising above the 
grade of comfort in which trunks and chests suffice as re- 
ceptacles for clothes and household linen. The cabinet 
was for articles of value; the cupboard for plate, glass, china 
and earthenware; and the press for linen and clothing. 
The press much resembled the court cupboard externally, 
though it was generally larger. The distinction between 
press and cupboard is not always maintained. In 1659, 
Thomas Welles of Netherfield owns " a linen cupboard," 
^'1-5-0. In 1652, there were two presses {j[i) in John 
Cotton's "Gallarie " ; and William Blanchard possessed a 
cupboard with a press, ^^'1-10-0. Other presses mentioned 
are: a voider with a press, j^'i-io-o (1652); a press cup- 
board, jf 1-4-0 ( 1654) ; and a press and cloth, ^^'i (1657). 
A linen press also stood in Humphrey Warren's ** Great 
Parlour " in 1680. In Elizabeth Gardner's parlour also, in 
1 68 1, there was "a large press to hang clothes in, j[2." 
The press, therefore, was an important piece of furniture, 
as is proved by the high prices given. The cloth shows 
that it was adorned like the other cupboards, and some- 
times we find things placed on the head. It contained not 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

only clothes and linen, but sometimes bedding as well. In 
1653, Captain Tinge's hall contained *' 6 raught window 
cushions in the prevsse, ^2 ; " and *' a feather bed and bol- 
ster in ye presse, ^4. ' Moreover, there was a ** presse bed- 
stead " which was a form of folding bed. Johnson's Dic- 




r,U<.r^,u.^ 



CHEST WITH DRAWER AND MINIATURE CHEST WITH DRAWER ON TOP 
From the Whipple House, Ipswich, Mass. 

tionary describes it as a bed so formed as to be shut up in 
a case. Robert Carver owned one in 1679. It was val- 
ued at ^3, which is five or six times the cost of an aver- 
age bedstead. 

The frame was a separate four-legged support to several 
pieces of furniture. When the top of the table was not 
fixed, the table and frame often occur. Other entries are : 
chest and frame, 1652; cabinet and frame it stands on, 
1654; desk and frame, 1672; a pair of virginals with 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

frame, 1672 ; trunk with the frame it stands on, 1674 ; and 
small cupboard on a frame, 1691. The washstand is very 
rarely met with, but a bason frame worth five shillings was 
owned by Major-General Gibbons, 1654. In 1691 John 
Clarke owns a cistern and bason worth four shillings. 




OAK CHEST WITH DRAWER 
From the Whipple House, Ipcwich, Matt. 

Chests were of supreme importance in the early days of 
the settlement and were found in every house even at the 
close of the century. They contained the clothes, linen, 
valuables, and often the plate of the family. They were of 
all sizes, sometimes plain and sometimes carved. The ini- 
tials, and often the date of birth of the owner, were fre- 
quently carved on the front. Many examples of the oak 
chest still survive. Sometimes it stood on short legs like 
those shown above and on page 2 1 2, and facing page 214. In 
1652 John Cotton owns one, and examples are innumerable. 

"3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The commonest kinds were made of pine; cedar was 
highly prized because of its supposed preservative virtues. 
Chests varied in value in accordance with their size, mate- 
rial, condition and workmanship. A considerable variety 
was found in New England homes before 1650. Cypress 
seems to have been the most valuable wood. In 1645, a 
cypress chest is worth ^^2-10-0, and another on the death 
of its owner, ten years later, is listed at ;^io. The latter, 
however, is quite exceptional, as a few examples from that 
decade will show: a spruce chest, ten shillings; a great 
chest, six shillings and sixpence; a chest, thirteen shillings 
and four pence; a joined do, fifteen shillings; one chest, 
eighteen pence; a chest, a trunk and a long cushion, ten 
shillings; a chest covered with red leather, ^^2; a "ci- 
presse" chest, ^5; a chest worth nothing; a wainscot do, 
fifteen shillings; a cedar do, five boxes and a desk, ^^i ; 
two joyned chests, four shillings; two chests and two boxes^ 
j^i-15-0. Thus the value varied between zero and ten 
pounds. A narrow shallow box often ran along one end 
just under the lid. This was called the till, and in it the 
smaller articles of value and finery were kept. 

A handsome oak chest with two drawers below the 
deep well and a till to the right inside faces this page. It 
is owned by Mrs. John Marshall Holcombe, Hartford, 
Conn. The panels are carved and the decorations of spin- 
dles and egg-shaped ornaments are of white wood stained 
black. A common name for this is the "bride's chest," 
as it frequently contained the trousseau. 

Another chest of dark oak with carved panels and 
floral ornamentation, belonging to Mr. Charles R. Waters, 
of Salem, Mass., faces page 2 1 6. Upon it stands a small 
oak writing-desk of the same period, 

»»4 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The trunk was also commonly found. In 1647,3 new 
trunk belonging to the deceased Joseph Weld, of Roxbury, 
is estimated at ten shillings. In 1654, a case and a trunk 
are worth only half a crown. Others mentioned are as fol- 
lows: a trunk, ten shillings; two trunks, sixteen shillings; 
a small red trunk, half a crown; a small trunk with draw- 
ers, six shillings; two chests and three trunks, eight shil- 
lings; one trunk, twelve shillings. The trunk was often 
covered. The sealskin trunk is frequently found ; and in 
1652 a "great hair trunk" costs ^^'i. Governor Dudley 
owns an iron-bound trunk which, with a knife and 
voider, comes to ^f 1-2-6. In 1671, we find two trunks 
with frames j^' i - 1 0-0, and three others, £2. John Hull 
(1673) has a small trunk with drawers, six shillings. The 
distinction between the trunk and the chest is not always 
clear, though the trunk was usually reserved for keeping 
wearing apparel in. Its form usually resembled a section 
of a tree trunk, and it seems in most cases to have been 
covered with some form of hide. The lack of precision 
in the early dictionary makers renders it vain to go to 
them for information. For instance, in Phillips's New 
World of Words (1662), we find the following definitions: 
Trunky a chest or box ; chesty a kind of coffer, box or trunk; 
caskety 2. little cabinet ; cahinety a chest of drawers or little 
trunk to put things in. Thus we have an endless chain and 
are working in a circle in which everything seems to be 
everything else. When terms were used so loosely even by 
those who were trying to explain them to others, we can- 
not be surprised at the difficulties the appraisers seem to 
have experienced in defining the various objects. 

Two kinds of the trunk face page 224. 

The first development of the simple chest was the in- 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

sertion of a drawer below. Then came more drawers, till 
we have a bewildering array of chest with drawers, chest 
of drawers, nest of drawers, and case of drawers. The- 
chest was the converse of the cupboard : the latter was: 
originally a series of shelves that were gradually closed in 
with doors and had drawers added, finally taking the form 
of a huge chest surmounted by a smaller one, as we have 
seen ; while the chest gradually had its interior divided up 
into compartments and drawers. While one became closed 
in, the other opened up. The cabinet in its most simple 
form was nothing but the chest, with drawers and shelves 
inside, shut in by two doors into which the front was 
divided. 

Thomas Cortmore of Charlestown (1645) owned a 
chest of drawers, ^2 ; a little cabinet, four shillings ; a lit- 
tle box of drawers, two shillings ; two chests, four cases, 
and three trunks, one of which was covered with sealskin. 
Captain Tinge (1653) had a sealskin trunk, six shillings ; a 
small chest of drawers, fifteen shillings ; a small cabinet, 
five shillings; a chest of drawers, ^2-10-0; an old box 
with drawers, fifteen shillings ; two small chests of drawers, 
^i ; two plain chests, and a cypress and a "great" chest, 
valued at ^5 and £^ respectively ; the carving on the 
two last must have been profuse and ornate to justify such 
prices. Other articles of this class in the middle of the cen- 
tury include a chest of drawers, five shillings, and others at 
^i-io-o, ;^3, ;£^i-5-o, and ^^1-12-0 respectively. Then we 
have cases and boxes of drawers. In 1654 we find a ** box 
of drawers," three shillings, and a " large carpet and an old 
case of drawers, j^i-io-o." As the century advanced, the 
drawers multiplied, and this piece of furniture became more 
elaborate. In 1670 William Wardell has a chest with five 

»i6 




OAK DESK 

Madt in 1684. In the eolUction of the Way tide Inn^ Sudbury. Owned by Mr. E. R. Umom. 

Sre page 220. 

CARVED OAK CHEST AND SMALL WRITING-DESK 

O'wned by Mr. Charlti R. Waters, Salem, Man. See page 214. 




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THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

drawers, j^2, and one with two drawers, j[i-io-o. In 
1675 John Freack has a case of drawers, ^^3. Several va- 
rieties are represented in this section. On page 213 is 
shown an oak chest with drawer, standing on big ball feet. 




OAK. CASE OK DRAWERS 
Owned by the Mii^sachutetts Historical Society, BoMon. 



An oak case, or " nest of drawers," standing on short, 
square feet, is shown on this page. The drt)p handles 
are old, but are probably a later addition to the speci- 
men. 

A simpler specimen, belonging to the collection of 
the Wayside Inn is shown on the next page. Two of the 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




OAK CHEST WITH DRAWERS 
From the "Wayside Inn," Sudbury, Mass. Owned by Mr. E. R. Lemon. 

handsome bell-flower shaped handles are missing. Al- 
though the panels would seem to show that there are eight 
drawers, the locks show only four. An old chest or 
" nest of drawers," without knobs or handles, belonging 
to Mr. F. Hotchkiss of New Haven, appears on page 219. 
It is of the plainest workmanship. The top lifts up, re- 
vealing a deep well. 

Chests of drawers were adorned with cloths as the cup- 
boards were. This is distinctly shown by an item of Gov- 
ernor Leete's inventory in Hartford County (1682), which 
reads ** one chest of drawers and cupboard cloth belonging 
to it, ^2-16-0." 

Z18 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHER.^ 




CHEST OR " NEST OF DRAWERS " 
Owned by Mr. F. Hotchlciw, New Haven, Conn. 



On page 221 is represented a chest of drawers with 
a table top having falling leaves supported on brackets. 
The wood is light oak and is ornamented with the usual 
black spindles. This piece is owned by the Massachu- 
setts Historical Society, Boston, Mass. 

An oak chest with two drawers faces page 226. 
Its panels arc edged with maple stained black, it stands on 
square feet, and it is richly carved. This piece has long 



ai9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

been in the Talcott family, and is owned now by Mrs. 
Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. 

A further development of the chest with drawers was 
the desk or ** screetore " that occurs in 1658 among Mr. 
Goodyear's possessions (see page 164). All that was necessary 
was to take a great chest with two or three drawers in the 
lower part and let down the front of the upper well on 
hinges, supporting it with chains. The interior thus ex- 
posed was then filled in with convenient drawers, shelves 
and compartments. It is abundantly evident that some 
form of this desk, called the press desk, or scretore, existed 
in New England in the first half of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. John Cotton had a "press desk and chest, £\y' in 
1652. The designation plainly shows the construction. 
The small separate desk was also common. Simon Eire 
had one in his bedroom (1653); Chri-stopher Stanley 
(1646) owned two, and Robert Turner (1651), one. A 
box and desk in Joseph Weld's "inner chamber" (1647) 
was valued at seven shillings. An oak desk, made in 1684, 
with the date and initials W. H., is shown facing page 
216. It is in the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass. 

As early as 1 669, Antipas Boyse has an elaborate " scri- 
tore and desk " valued as high as j^io. In 1672, William 
Whittingham owns a desk and frame, ten shillings; James 
Edmunds (1676) two cedar desks, ^^i; Thomas Kellond 
(1683) a scriptore, ^2, and a small ditto, ten shillings; 
John Bracket, a standing desk, standish and box, ;^ 1-5-0. 

John Blackleach of Wethersfield, whose estate amount- 
ed to ^'i 576-19-0 at his death in 1703, owned eight desks, 
one of which was a valuable " desk with drawers," ^£^3-1 3-0. 
We see therefore that long before the end of our period the 
escritoire had already reached its full development. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

A bookcase as a separate article of furniture appears in 
the inventory of Henry Bridgham in 1671. Books of a 
devotional character were plentiful. Many worthies of the 
colonies must have found time for study and meditation 
even in the early days of hardship, struggle and strife. Re- 
spectable libraries were not uncommon. The Rev. John 
Morton's 729 volumes of which 189 were folios (1663) 




OAK CHEST OF DRAWERS WITH TABLE TOP 
Owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston. 

have already been mentioned. The study frequently occurs 
as a separate apartment in the best houses. Here the mas- 
ter might read and write at his ease, for it was comfortably 
warmed and furnished. John Cotton's is an early exam- 
ple. In 1652, it contained a table, three chairs, a stool and 
a couch ; and the ** liberary of books as valued in the will 
by him though cost much more ^f 150." Inside the press 
desk were of course the usual quill pens, sand-box and ink- 
stand, or standish. The latter was of wood, pewter, silver 
or iron. The wood was sometimes carved. Five shillings 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

was the value of Henry Webb's wooden standish in 1660. 
The desk equipment of Colonel John Allyn (Hartford, 
1696) comprises a standish, sealing (wax), inkhorn, pen- 
knife, etc., and a pair of spectacles and case. 

The value of chests, trunks, cabinets, etc., was consid- 
erably increased when accompanied with metal mountings, 
locks, keys, and hinges. Wrought iron and brass were in 
great demand. Iron-bound chests and boxes were in most 
shops and country houses, and in many bedrooms. It must 
be assumed that the majority of boxes, trunks, cases and 
chests had no locks, since in many cases the lock was worth 
special mention. Thus William Bartlett of Hartford 
(1658) has "a chest with a lock, ten shillings." For pull- 
ing out the drawers, knobs were principally used. In the 
inventories of hardware in various stores, handles are very 
seldom mentioned. In 1640 John Harbye had two old 
locks at a shilling each, and four iron hinges at ten pence 
each. Six years later a pair of curtain rods is entered at 
three shillings, while five ditto cost a shilling each in 1653. 
Prices scarcely varied during the next half century. Alex- 
ander Rollo (Hartford, 1709) had a door lock and key, 
£o-j-6 \ 2 chests with locks and keys, jfo-15-0; a desk 
with ditto, ^0-8-0. 

The cabinet varied in value, but not so greatly as the 
chest and cupboard. A stray cabinet of Eastern workman- 
ship is occasionally found, but when the other kinds reach 
comparatively high value it is due to the articles contained 
inside. In 1653 "a small cabinet five shillings" occurs. 
In 1654 an iron-bound cabinet is appraised at three times 
as much ; and a cabinet, frame it stands on, and cupboard 
cloth, at ^2-10-0 ; but here the cloth may have been the 
most valuable part of the item. Six years later the latter 



THK FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

sum also would pay for a " cabinet and some things in 
it"; while another "cabinet with several things in it" 
comes to ^^'2, one ditto with drawers, seventeen shillings 
and six pence, and a "green velvet cabinet, j[i." Other 
kinds of cabinets were known at this time, although they 
do not appear till the owners die, a few years later. James 
Edmunds (1676) has a cedar cabinet, ^^'i. A crimson 
velvet cabinet (twelve shillings) is found in the home of 
Antipas Boyse in 1679. The cabinet was not necessarily 
a very small piece of furniture as compared with the chest, 
since, when small, the entry often so specifies, as we have 
seen. Moreover, the " frame it stands on " indicates a 
large object. The nature of the articles that were kept in 
the cabinets may be gathered from direct evidence. At the 
death of Henry Shrimpton in 1666 a small cabinet con- 
tained seven gold rings and two purses, all worth ^^'3. We 
have seen that there were some blue china dishes in Mr. 
Francis Brewster's East India cabinet in 1647. Porcelain 
was coming in now through the Dutch and English trade 
with the Far East, and not very long after the East India 
Company was formed in London many examples are found. 
Governor Eaton (see page 166) had a ** sheney bason," and 
Thomas Cortmore had some " chaney ware platters, ;^i." 
A •* chaney dish and others on the shelves, three shillings," 
belonged to Major-General Gibbons, while a " chaney cup 
tipped with silver " was owned by Humphrey Damerell ; 
and John Coggan possessed "six small chany dishes, £1.*' 
These men all died before 1660. East India goods greatly 
multiplied in the houses towards the close of the century, 
not only porcelains but the cabinets and other Oriental wares 
with which we have lately again become so familiar. In 
1699 John Higginson writes from Salem to his brother in 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

India : ** In the late war all East India goods were ex- 
tremely dear. . . . China and lacker wares will sell if a 
small quantity." 

Although the Puritans frowned down all kinds of mu- 
sical instruments but the trumpet and drum, yet in the 
privacy of their homes there were many who played the 
virginals in New England. In 1645 John Simeon of Wa- 
tertown has an old pair of virginals ; and Major-General 
Gibbons has another old one worth ^i in 1654. Five 
shillings is the value of another ancient specimen ; but one 
in good condition is worth ^2 in 1667, and another "with 
frame" comes to the same in 1672. A " gitterne " is en- 
tered at a crown in 1653 ; Dr. Samuel Allcock owns "a 
cittern and case" in 1677, and an old one belonging to 
Thomas Sexton (1679) is worth only a florin. An old 
guitar, at sixteen shillings, is found among Dr. John 
Clarke's possessions in 1690. 

Clocks were found in most of the prosperous homes 
during the first half of the century. When Abraham Shaw 
of Dedham passed from time into eternity in 1638 his 
clock was still worth eighteen shillings to others. One- 
third of that sum suffices for an old timepiece in 1654. 
The tall clock from the Low Countries was in use here 
many years before it is known to have been made in Eng- 
land. It is always described as the " clock and case " in 
the inventories, and is quite expensive. In 1652 we find 
a brass clock, £^2. ; and a clock and case, ^6. Specimens 
of each appear facing page 168. The ordinary clock aver- 
aged from j^2 to ^'3. In the dining-room of Sir William 
Phipps, Governor of Massachusetts, was one worth jf 20, but 
this must have been of rare workmanship. "In my Ladies 
Room " was also ** a repeating clock, ^10." 

224 




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THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Watches were also in use. Comfort Starr had one 
watch {£2) in 1659; and ten years later Antipas Boyse 
owned a silver watch-case with watch, ^'2- 1 0-0. The dis- 
tinction between watches and clocks is not always clear in 
the minds ot the appraisers, for in 1675 Captain Samuel 
Scarlet is credited with "one watch with waites, ^,1." 
Suf?-dials are found, and hour-glasses are innumerable. 

Looking-glasses were also in use here twenty-hve years 
at least before they were manufactured in England. When 
Rc^bert Bulton ceased seeing " through a glass darkly," in 
1650, his hall contained "two looking-glasses, twelve shil- 
lir.gs." Two years later, one at half a crown was included 
ir the estate of George Bennett. In 1652, we find a great 
1 ")oking-glass, ^^i ; and in 1654, "one great looking-Glass 
•)f ibeny, £1." William Bartlett of Hartford, in 1658, 
owns ten looking-glasses, two of them at ^*i each. The 
inventories show a scarcity of this article until the last 
quarter of this century, although of those mentioned several 
are valued at from three to eight shillings each, and one as 
low as one shilling. Metal brackets for candles were soon 
affixed to the frames. Humphrey Warren (1680) and 
John Winslow (1683) each possessed a "looking-glass 
and brasses." An interesting looking-glass frame inlaid 
with olive-wood faces page 230. This originally belonged 
to the Rev. John White of Gloucester and was presented 
to the collection at the Whipple House, Ipswich, by Mrs. 
C. E. Bomef. The olive-wood frame for looking-glasses 
has already been mentioned on page 9. 

The fireplaces were large and well furnished. Gener- 
ally there was an iron back, cast with some figure or floral 
design. Andirons were universal ; they were of brass or 
iron, or iron with brass dog's-heads. Dogs are often men- 

»»5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tioned. They varied in price, costing anything from five 
shillings to fifty shillings a pair. They were always ac- 
companied by shovel and tongs, but the poker is never 
mentioned ; wood fires did not require it. Sometimes chim- 
ney-pans and fire-pans occur. Adam Winthrop (1651) 
owned also an iron fender, and a toasting-iron tipped with 
silver. The hearth needed a pair of bellows in order to 
be fully equipped. Some of these were handsomely carved 
and otherwise ornamented. In 1650 Captain Tinge had 
a great lantern and a pair of bellows with a brass pipe, ten 
shillings ; and a great pair of brass andirons and a pair of 
carved bellows worth ^3-10-0. 

Till comparatively late in the century, ofl^ensive and 
defensive armour was found in every house ; it was needed 
against the Indians as well as for hunting purposes. The 
military chiefs also had quite an arsenal in their houses. 
It may be interesting to give the furniture and equipment 
in the artillery room of Major-General Gibbons in the 
middle of the century (1654). There was a big fireplace 
with andirons; a drawing-table and large carpet, a long 
cushion, two forms, three chairs and a case of drawers. 
The arms consisted of seven muskets, seven pistols, five 
harquebuses, one cross-bow, one long bow, dart arrows, one 
pole-ax, five glass grenades, one Indian brusile club, sixteen 
pieces of armour, one complete corselet and pike, a cornet, 
and four brass guns and carriages. 

The rooms in the early houses were few as a rule, though 
spacious. Sufficient evidence has now been produced to 
prove that in many cases elegance as well as comfort was 
cultivated in the interior furnishings, although extravagance 
in the building and furnishing of houses was discouraged 
by the early Puritans. Governor John Winthrop reproved 

sa6 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

his deputy in 1632, telling him that "he did not well to 
bestow too much cost about wainscoting and adorning his 
house in the beginning of a plantation, both in regard of the 
public charges and for example." Winthrop's advice was dis- 
regarded before the commonwealth lost its charter, however, 
and handsomer houses were erected, especially in Boston. 
The pious Judge Sewall wrote to London for finer furniture 
than could be obtained in this country. Increase of wealth 
bred luxury, and in the second half of the seventeenth cen- 
tury the number of wealthy individuals rapidly multiplied. 
A long list might be compiled of estates of more than 
jf2ooo. In the Boston records alone we find: Henry 
Shrimpton (1666), ^12,000; Antipas Boyse (1669), about 
^'2500 ; Captain Peter Oliver (1670), ^^4572 ; James Penn 
(1671), ^^2039; Governor Richard Bellingham (1672), 
^^3244; Captain Samuel Scarlet ( 1675), ^^2004; John 
Freack (1675), ^^2391 ; Joshua Atwater (1676), ^^41 27; 
Thomas Lake (1677), ^2445; Henry Mountford (1691), 
jf 2722 ; Sir William Phipps (1696), ^^3337; Robert 
Bronsdon (1702), ^3252; Richard Middlecot (1704), 
;f 2084 ; Florence Maccarty (1712), ^2922 ; and Madam 
Elizabeth Stoddard (171 3), j{" 18,044. John Mico, a mer- 
chant who lived till 171 8, was worth jf 11,230. 

The Hartford records also show some large estates, in- 
cluding James Richards (1680), ^^7931 ; Jonathan Gilbert 
(1682), ^^2484; Colonel John Allyn (1696), ^2013; 
Richard Lord (1712), ;^6369; and John Haynes (1714), 
;f333°* Governor Leete's possessions in Hartford County 
alone came to ^^1040; and there were dozens of other 
estates between one and two thousand pounds. It is inter- 
esting to compare these sums with the Southern estates on 
pages 109— 1 10. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Josselyn, who visited Salem in 1664, said: "In this 
town are some very rich merchants." The records of the 
town show that this was not merely a complimentary state- 
ment. Salem's mercantile marine brought every kind of 
foreign goods to her door. One of her distinguished 
citizens was Captain Philip English, a trader, who built a 
stylish dwelling in Salem in 1683. Down to 1753 it was 
known as English's great house. During the witchcraft 
mania, in 1692, he and his wife nearly fell victims, but 
escaped by the connivance of the authorities. The governor. 
Sir William Phipps, seems to have kept his head. The 
witch-baiting mob, however, sacked Captain English's 
house and destroyed or carried off the furniture that had 
been brought in on many voyages. Compensation was 
afterward offered, but refused as inadequate. The heirs 
afterward accepted ^200. 

John Dunton, a London citizen, visited New England 
in 1685, and has left some interesting notes. The first 
person he went to see in Salem was George Herrick, who 
was marshal of Essex during the witchcraft mania. Dun- 
ton writes: "The entertainment he gave me was truly 
noble and generous, and my lodging so extraordinary both 
with respect to the largeness of the room and richness of 
the furniture, as free he was that had I staid a month there, 
I had been welcome gratis. To give you his character, in 
brief, my Dear, he is a Person whose Purse is great, but his 
Heart greater; he loves to be bountiful, yet limits his 
Bounty by Reason : He knows what is good and loves it ; 
and loves to do it himself for its own sake and not for 
thanks : he is the Mirror of hospitality, and neither Abra- 
ham nor Lot were ever more kind to strangers." Herrick 
treated him also to "all that was rare in the Countrey." 

228 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Dunton had a splendid supper and slept on a ** bed of down." 
•*My apartment was so noble," he writes, "and the Furni- 
ture so suitable to it, that I doubt not but even the king 
himself has been oftentimes contented with a worscr 
lodging.** 

The better class of house in New England differed 
from that in the South in seldom having a bed in the hall, 
and only occasionally in the parlour. The hall was the 
general family living and reception room, the parlour hav- 
ing an air of greater intimacy and retirement. The hall, 
until the century was well advanced, often contained an odd 
mixture of severe and luxurious furniture. In 1670, Wil- 
liam Warden's hall contained an expensive table and ** dar- 
nix carpet " with five joint stools under it, — their position is 
expresslv stated. Then there were four leather chairs, one 
small and one big joined chair, and four of the expensive 
"green" chairs accompanied by two stools with silk fringe. 
Five green wrought cushions added to their comfort. In- 
stead of a cupboard, there were a great chest with cupboard 
cloth and cushion, and two other valuable chests containing 
one and five drawers respectively. On one of these were a 
bible and other books, and over the other was a looking- 
glass. The hearth was garnished with the usual brassware. 

The dining-room was furnished with a long cedar table, 
and a small table (and carpet) with drawers in which was 
a case containing a silver knife, spoon and fork. (This is 
the earliest mention of the table fork in New England that 
I have found.) The seats consisted of four leather chairs 
and thirteen joint stools. Against one wall stood a glass 
case, on the shelves of which were nine pieces of earthen- 
ware. A tin lantern, a chimney-back, andirons, etc., minis- 
tered to light and heat. 

239 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The little parlour contained a fine chest of drawers 
covered by a green cloth with a border and containing a 
brush and other toilet articles ; a feather bed with red cur- 
tains and valance, two cushioned stools, two low leather and 
six matted high chairs ; a spice-box with drawers ; and an 
iron chimney-back, and andirons. The closet contained a 
desk and some lumber. 

Besides the kitchen, the house contained five other 
rooms, handsomely furnished. 

The house of Sir William Phipps, the governor already 
mentioned, shows a degree of luxury and elegance that one 
hardly expects to find in New England in 1696. This 
home of wealth seems singularly modern as we reconstruct 
it. There was no bed in the hall, the furniture of which 
consisted of two tables and a carpet, twelve cane chairs and 
a couch. A large looking-glass valued at ^8 hangs on the 
wall, and two pairs of brass andirons tell us that two fires 
burned brightly in this spacious entrance. Passing into the 
dining-room, we find no less than three tables. There are 
fourteen chairs, "one couch and squabb," and a clock 
which must have been exceedingly handsome, for it was 
valued at j[^20. A second looking-glass worth just half as 
much as the one in the hall also adorns the room, and there 
are one pair of andirons and a candlestick. In the closet, 
probably built in the wall, there is a case of " crystall 
bottles" worth ;^i o ; and some guns, swords, etc., worth ^i 2. 

In " My Lady's Room " there stands a very handsome 
bed with its furniture of silk curtains and silk quilt, valued 
at j[jo. For further comfort we find a chest of drawers, 
dressing-box, tables and stands, a looking-glass and six 
chairs. A very valuable article is a " repeating clock" 
worth no less than ^^lo. 




LOOKING-GLASS FRAME 

Inlaid ivrth otivt nvooJ. From the IfhippU Heuje, Ipttvich, Mais. Set page 2J^- 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The "Hall Chamber" contains a still handsomer bed 
which with its silk quilt and curtains and eighteen cushions 
is valued at j[ioo. This room also contains a "scriptore 
and stand, table, dressing-box and stands," "twelve cane 
chairs and squabb," and a looking-glass. " Chiny ware" 
adorns the chimney-piece, where the logs blaze on brass 
andirons. Of course the fire shovel, etc., stands conven- 
iently by the side of the chimney-piece. 

There is also a "White Chamber" in the house, but 
the bed here is evidently simpler, as it is only valued at 
^20 with its furniture, quilt, and curtain. A chest of 
drawers, a table, a looking-glass, and six Turkey-work 
chairs furnish the room. Here are also two trunks and 
linen valued at ^'63-8-0. 

The "Maid's Chamber" contained a curtained bed, 
table and looking-glass. The "Chaplain's Chamber" con- 
tained, besides the curtained bed and his case of barber's 
implements and gun, a table and six leather chairs. This 
shows that the condition of a private chaplain in New 
England was by no means so servile as that of his brother 
in the Old Country, and would not have excited Macaulay's 
contemptuous pity. The other apartments consisted of a 
closet in which was a bed, etc., and a "little chamber" 
containing a negro woman's bed with curtains, garrets for 
the servants, and the kitchen. In the kitchen, besides the 
ordinary household and cooking utensils, there was silver 
plate to the value of ^^415. Other possessions of Sir 
William included a coach and horses, a saddle horse, and 
a yacht. 

In the seventeenth century it was customary for parents 
to give their children a generous portion of household goods 
on their marriage. As a rule, this was all new furniture 

23' 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and passed into the possession of the husband. An example 
of the varions articles included in this dowry is found in 
the inventory of Alexander Allyn of Hartford, who died in 
1708. It is headed "Estate that deceased had with his 
wife, Elizabeth, in marriage (now left to her)." One round 
table, a chest of drawers, a box, books ; white earthenware, 
glasses, tin candlesticks, a pair of andirons, tongs and slice, 
warming-pan ; bed with curtain, valance and coverings ; six 
pair sheets, six pair pillowbeers; diaper table cloth, twelve 
do. napkins, four table cloths, two dozen napkins, sixteen 
towels ; one chest, a looking-glass; one " sive"; a porringer, 
salt, wine-cup and spoon, all silver ; two trunks, earthen- 
ware, a child's basket; gridiron, brass kettle, two brass 
skillets, iron pot and hooks ; two pewter platters, eleven 
plates, one bason, nine porringers, two saucers, one salt, 
three drinking-cups, three spoons; tinware, earthenware 
and a stone jug; fork and skimmer; trenchers, two heaters; 
four chairs; in silver money, £() ; total, ^50-7-0. 

A fine example of a New England kitchen faces page 
222. This is in the Whipple House, Ipswich, Mass. 



dtit. II 11 IMI II 




S ivc 5 



THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR ^^if 

FOREiFATHERS 



THE ILLUSTRATIONS FOR THE NEW ENG- 
LAND PORTIONS OF THIS WORK AND A 
NUMBER OF THOSE IN NEW YORK STATE 
ARE REPRODUCED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 
BY R. F. TURNBULL, OF NEW YORK 




1 



o « 
a I 




THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CRJTICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLATES 
By RUSSELL STURGIS 



ILLUSTRATED 



t<M3^ PART IV CX>3 




GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
19 13 





COPYRIGHT, 19OI, BY 

DOUBLEDAY, PACE Sc CO. 

AUGUST, 1901 



CONTENTS 



The Early Dutch Settlers 

First ships from Holland, 235 ; descriptions of New 
Amsterdam, 236—7 ; wealth of citizens, 238. 

Comfortable Homes and Early F'urniture 

A Typical Dutch House 

Home of Cornelis Steenwyck 

Chairs, Forms and Stools . 

Beds, Bedsteads, Household Utensils and 
Children's Furniture 

House of Cornelis Van Dyke 

Home of Captain Kidd 

Mar(^etry and Mahogany 

Oriental Goods and Furniture . 

Porcelain and Chinaware . 

Pictures ..... 

Chimney and Cupboard Cloths . 

The Kas ..... 

Usefulness and value, 264; examples owned in New 
Amsterdam, 265; the ball foot or " knot," 265-6 ; the 
glass case and frame, 266. 

Early Importafions . 
Woods Used for Furniture 
Wealth of fhe Dutch 
The Doien-Kammer . 
Colonial New York . 



235-23^ 

239-242 
242-244 
245-247 
248-250 

250-252 

253-254 
255-256 

256-258 

258-259 

259-261 

261-263 

. 263 

264-267 



267-268 

268-269 

. 269 

. 269 

. 270 



CONTENTS 



Furniture in the Early Eighteenth Cen- 
tury ...... 

Walnut and olive-wood, 271 ; Dutch styles in fashion, 
271—2; homes of Captain Giles Shelley and George 
Duncan, 272—4. 

Home of Governor Burnet . 

Development of the Splat and Advent of 

Mahogany Furniture 
Upholsterers and Bed-Furnishings 
Paper-hangings . . . 

Architecture and Fashions 
Woods and Metal Mounts . 
Cabinet-makers .... 
Specimens of Seats 
Importations .... 

Looking-glasses, ornaments and engravings, 292; mar- 
ble tables and other furniture, 293—4; carpets and floor- 
cloths, 295—6 ; fire-places and chimney-pieces, 296—7 

China and Glassw^are 

Tea-Table Appointments . 

Ornamental China 

Luxuries of the Dressing Table 

Desk Furnishings 

Clocks and Clock-makers . 

Music and Musical Instruments 

Cards and Other Games, and Toys 

Needlework 

Looking-glasses and Sconces 

Lamps, Lanterns and Candlesticks 



270-274 



274-276 

277-278 
278-280 
280-282 
283-284 
284-286 
287-288 
289-292 
292—297 



297-299 
299-300 
300-301 
301-302 
. 302 
302-304 
304-306 
307-308 
308-310 
310-311 
311-312 




i^^m^ 



List of Illustrations 

WITH CRITICAL NOTES ON MANY OF 
THE PLATES BY RUSSELL STURGIS 



ALL THE NOTU ruRNISHtD BY MK. STOBOIt 
ABE FOLLOWED BY HIS INITLALS, B. (. 



Frontispiece: Sofa .... facing 

Carved lofa, about 1 760, the covering of French tapestry, Gobelins or Bcauvais, of the 
■ame or a somewhat later epoch. R. S. 



PAGB 

iii 



Kas 



FACING 235 



Cupboard, with two drawers in the base and two in the excessively large cornice, probably 
provincial work of about 1 700, the reminiscence of the simple design of three-<]uarters of 
a century earlier still lingering ; but the sculpture late and florid ; perhaps not originally 
belonging to this piece. R. S. 



Carved Oak Cupboard . . . facing 

Oak cupboard, probably about 1^7^ and having in its frame, proportions, nMuldings, and 
ironwork the suggestion of a still earlier date. It seems like German work of one of the 
Rhine towns, from which it might easily have been taken to Holland. R. S. 



238 



Annetje Jans's Chair . 



Chair with black painted frame and r\ish-bottom seat. The top rail b bowed ; the splat, 
jar-shaped ; and the front legs turned and ending in hoof feet. £. S. 

Old Dutch Chair 

A heavy and solid chair painted black. The front legs and front stretchers are turned ; 
the turned posts terminate in plain legs ; there are four slats and the top rail is arched. 
The seat is rich crimson damask. E. S. 



240 



241 



Two Chairs ....... 

The fint » similar enough to one on page 49 to give it the same date. It is also similar 
to those on page 188. The front legs and stretchers of the second chair are similar, but 
the presence of curves shows that it b a transitional chair. A little further development 
will produce the chair to the left on pge 1 84. Thb kind of chair was frequently covered 
with leather. E. S. 



249 



Dutch Church Stool 



FACING 239 



A small itool about two feet long and one foot high. It b painted black and dated 1 70a. 
It bean a picture of the Last Judgment and a Dutch vetBc. E. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Child's Chair and Mahogany Tea-Table . . 253 

The chair, very solid and heavy and painted black, resembles in some respects the chair on 
page 241. Its dark red seat a much worn. Tables of the model shown here were in 
use in Dutch houses considerably before 1 700. One with four legs is to be seen in an in- 
terior by David Teniers in the Prado, Madrid. E. S. 

Warming-pan, F'oot-warmers, Trunk and a 

"ScHEPPEL" . . . . FACING 254 

The trunk and foot-warmers may be compared with the illustration facing page 214. The 
warming-pan is of copper ; the " scheppcl " is a grain measure used in the New Nether- 
lands. £. S. 

Mahogany Table ...... 257 

A table said to have been brought to New York in 1668. It is of mahogany and made 
in the old style of the oak tables with turned legs and stretchers. The chairs on the same 
plate are much later. E. S. 

Cradles and Children's Chairs and Fire 

Screens ..... facing 255 

Cradle of simple carpenter work made of four pieces of plank (for ends and rockers) and 
fine pieces of board for sides and bottom. Handles are provided by sawed out piercings in 
ends and sides, and one of these has split away and has not been repaired. 
Child's rocking chair, made of four pieces of board and two pieces of heavy plank for 
rockers. The two small holes in the arms of the chair are provided for a strap or cord. 
A great deal of interesting and possibly tasteful work, which might be produced in country 
districts, is rejected or made impossible by the modem disposition to have everything city- 
Aed in appearance. Good taste in furniture, and the cheap imitation of costly price are 
incompatible and it seems they cannot exist side by side. R. S. 

Cradle covered with leather and dated. Pieces made of simple planking and boards, 
could be covered with leather or a textile material receiving in this way more finished 
and furniture-like appearance. When there were no skillful workmen, the local car- 
penter having no cunning beyond a simple handicraft of saw, chisel and plane, such a 
device suggested by the covered travelling trunks of the period would be resorted to. The 
brass-headed nails were easy to bring from a distance. R. S. 

Mahogany Table . . . facing 260 

An unusually handsome specimen with regard to the work and design. It is made after 
the style of the folding oak tables, with legs that move out to support the leaves when 
raised. The wood is a very dark and rich red. Its height is 29^ inches; its length, 6 
feet, 6 inches; and it is 5 feet, 1 1 inches, across the shortest diameter. £. S. 

Marc^etry Cupboard and Drawers . facing 261 

Chest of drawers with closed cupboard; inlaid with light-coloured wood and, probably, 
ivory. The style of design is of 1675; but this was one of those styles which became, at 
once, a recognized new step in decorative art, and the designs which were made during 
the first quarter-century have been repeated, almost without change, ever since. 
It is noticeable that the full development of convex and concave curves in the chest of 
drawers, a well-known characteristic of the Paris-made furniture of the time of Louis 
XIV, is here shown only in the frontispiece; while the flank is as square and flat below 
as it is above. Thb is an artistic fault, but as a curious mark of the Dutch re-issuing of 
the statelier French design it is very interesting and not to be wished away. R. S. 

Glass Case on Frame (MAR(.iUE try) . facing 264 

Glass-fronted bookcase resting on table frame. Inlaid, light-coloured wood on dark 
background, probably about 172;. The style seems to be that weakened or lowered 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

rACB 

modification of th« full Dutch Inlaid Cabinet style teen in pbte being 162. The more 
tlrnder form* of the leg*, combined with the ungraceful shape of the glazed case itself and 
the complicated straining-piece below, all indicate a decadent style in need of a re-awaken- 
ing influence. R. S. 

Walnut Kas ..... facing 265 

Chest of drawers with closed cupboard, plain cabinet work, of any date from i7$o to 
1800. A piece of considerable interest as exemplifying the simpler style of work which 
was hardly ever wholly abandoned for domestic work, after its introduction early in the 
eighteenth century. R. S. 

Mahogany Kas ....... 266 

Chest of drawers and cupboard, like the hit, but still more simple, and somewhat less 
elegant in design. R. S. 

Kas of Mar(|ijetry with Delft Plaques facing 270 

Wardrobe or cabinet solidly built of dark wood, the surfice inlaid with light colored woods 
and ivory and having about fifty circular plaques of Delft ware, each separately framed with 
delicate mouldings in slight projection from the general surface. The color of the plaques 
is in each case blue and white and these are therefore lighter than the piece : the inlays 
forming a third number in the proportion. The sincere love of the Dutch workmen for 
effective decoration, while still they retained a feeling for domestic simplicity, is evidenced 
in this piece. It is like the English Jacobean pieces ; which we contrast for their simplic- 
ity with the statelier contemporaneous furniture of the royal and princely households of 
Fiance and Germany. A courtier of Louis XIV would not have esteemed such a combina- 
tion of pottery and woodwork as this ; but the Dutch were fond of the idea and they some- 
times used costly Chinese plates and saucers encrusted in exactly the same nunner. R. S. 

Old Chest with Drawer ..... 270 

A rough and plain painted chest with a drawer. It has brass handles at each end, two 
locks, and the drawer is furnished with brass drop handles of very old design, pendent firom 
a circular brass plate. E. S. 

Three Chairs ....... 271 

The chair in the centre is of oak. Similar chairs appear on page 6, and ficing page 8 and 
page z86. The other two are of the Anglo-Dutch Khool, with cabriole legs, ball-and- 
claw fioot, acanthus car\-ed on the knee, the top rail bowed, with carved shell in the cen- 
tre, and spbt pierced. They may be compared with chairs on pages 99, 101, 108, 137, 
273, 289 and 309. E. S. 

Marquetry Cupboard . . . facing 271 

Bookcase, upper half with glazed doon ; frame and panels inlaid in the Dutch manner 
(see pbtes facing 262 and 270). The present lights of glass are too large to be the orig- 
inal pieces, and the case Una much of its character by the change. The inby is one of 
fine quality and good design ; the parrots in swinging perches are noticeable. R. S. 

Four Chairs ....... 272 

The tallest chair, painted bbck, may be of oak, for it b simibr to nuny already dexribed. 
The chair to the extreme right n simibr to those just described. The third specimen is of 
about the same period, but has straight legs and stretchers ; while the fourth chair b one 
of Sheraton's models. E. S. 

Mahogany Chairs with Turkey-work Bottoms 

facing 274 

Two handsome examples belonging to the early Chippendale school. In proportion and in 
detail, they are unusually fine. The simple jar-shaped spbt b boldly and gracefully pierced 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACE 

and carved; the top rail is carved and " embowed." The two front feet end in a very fine 
ball, and the claw clasping it is firm and strongly cut. The seats of Turkey-work are in 
pleasing patterns of gay colors. E. S. 

Plate-Back Chair ...... 276 

An interesting example of Dutch design, with cabriole legs, hoof feet, one stretcher, em- 
bowed top rail, and jar-shaped splat, forming a solid plate, unpierced. E. S. 

Dutch Chairs ....... 277 

Three chairs of the same period as the above ; the central one is an early form of the 
chair that often occurs in the American inventories as the " crown back chair," so-called 
from the shape given by its general outline. E. S. 

Mahogany Table .... facing 275 

This valuable specimen belongs to the same period as the one facing page 1 18. It b a fine 
piece of wood. The table has two leaves supported by legs that move out or in at pleasure. 
The ball-and-claw feet are boldly carved. E. S. 

Settee ........ 279 

This piece depends upon its shape and its upholstery for its effect and not its woodwork, 
for its legs only are visible. These are cabriole in shape and carved, ending in the ball- 
and-claw. E. S. 

Mahogany Bedstead . . . . . .281 

The posts are carved and turned, tapering gracefully toward the top. Unfortunately, 
there is neither cornice, nor tester to give to the bed its proper finish. The blue and 
white curtains are of the same age as the bedstead. E. S. 

Gobelin Tapestry Chairs . . . facing 282 

Two armchairs belonging to the same set as the sofa (frontispiece) and covered with sim- 
ilar tapestry. R. S. 

Four Chairs ..... facing 283 

The chair in the upper left-hand comer, of mahogany with yellow damask bottom, be- 
longs to the same period as those facing page 274. The splat is ornate, and the fool ■' 
ends in the ball-and-claw. The chair was brought to New York in 1763. 
The oak arm-chair next to it is richly carved ; the legs form with the front rail a graceful 
X and bear a shield with a lion rampant. The stamped red-leather seat is fastened with 
brass naib, and a cushion of the same material is held to the back by brass rings and a cord. 
The chair in the lower left-hand comer resembles many Dutch models alreaay described, 
save for the two handles, or ears, on either side of the back. 
The chair in the lower right comer is similar to the one on page 271. £. S. 

Mahogany Chairs ...... 289 

Both chairs are a later stage of development than those on page 277. The seats of both 
chairs are Turkey-work. £. S. 

Three Chairs ....... 290 

The two to the left belong to one set. The splat is pierced and in the centre an um or 
vase appears neatly carved. The other chair has its splat pierced in a graceful tracery de- 
sign. £. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FAOB 

Chair ........ 291 

A somewhat curious variety, with its straight legs ending in dog's feet, rush-bottom, bow- 
shaped top-rail and pierced and carved splat (]uite uncommon as to outline. E. S. 

Old Oak Chair ...... 292 

A chair of the type already shown on pages 183 and 190. The feet are similar to those 
of a chair on page 193. In all probability the original back and seat were of cane. E. S. 

Old "Wing" or "Saddle-Cheek" Chair . . 293 

A bedroom chair with stuffed back, seat and arms. The mahogany legs are short cabriole 
with ball-and-claw feet. Tht covering is a kind of brown matting. Another example 
of an earlier " wing " chair faces page 184. £. S. 

Corner Chair ........ 294 

A simpler specimen faces page ixi, with solid spbt; here the splat is pierced, but more 
elaborately than that on page 123. It differs from these examples in having ball-and- 
claw feet and cabriole legs, as well as in the curious ornamental pendents to the rail. E. S. 

Two Chairs ....... 295 

The one to the left is of the same period as those on pges 183 and 1 90; the second 
chair is Dutch, and similar to those on page 277 with the exceptions of its arms. The 
splat has been covered unfbrtuiutely with the same material as the seat, as was the chair 
on page loi. E. S. 

Marquetry Chest of Drawers and Glass Case 

facing 296 

Dutch inlaid decoration of fine quality. The piece is to be compared with that shown in 
plate facing 262, and is like that in many of its details. The decorative anthemions on 
the ends, springing from conventional vases resting on cu/t de lampt, are of great beauty. 
R. S. 

Oval Painted Table . . . facing 297 

Table with painted top; probably about 1 780. These painted pieces have a double origin, 
first in the inlays of coloured woods which, in Italy and later in the Low Countries, had 
been a recognized system of decoration since the fifteenth century, second, in the magni- 
ficent French work of the years 1720 to 1770, of which the celebrated painting in 
yernii Martin is the most brilliant. Once established, this fashion of painting'the larger 
surfaces lasted until 1840, and much in reality and more in possibility was lost when that 
Athion disappeared. R. S. 

Two Clocks ..... facing 302 

Tall clock, in lacquered case; the designs in painted lacquer appear to be really of Japan- 
ese work, and it nuy well be that the case had been sent out to Japan for the purpose. 
R. S. 

Bracket clock, the case wholly of metal, the front and sides ebborately worked in pierced 
patterns, the dial inserted flush with the front plate is modem: the clock is held by hooks 
to a strong horizontal moulding. R. S. 

Two Bracket or Pedestal Clocks . . . 305 

of excellent design. The one to the left contains arches at each side carved in lattice- 
work; the second ckxk, made by Robert Henderson of London, has several chimes. The 
btter is rkhly omamented with metal. E. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Parlour Organ ...... 

This example is 52 inches high and 26 inches wide. The case is mahogany and the 
pipes are ornamented with drapery. A bellows supplies the wind. The instrument plays 
ten English tunes. £. S. 

Mahogany Card Table and Chair . 

A table that is unusual in having five legs, one of which draws out to support the leaf. 
The feet are claw-and-ball. The chair, also of mahogany, is similar to many already de- 
scribed. E. S. 



307 



309 



Screen worked in 1776 



The standard is of nuhogany of the pillar-and-claw type; the legs end in the "snake 
foot"; and above the regular patterns of now faded colours the date 1776 is worked. 
£. S. 



31^ 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part IV 




KAS, WALNUT, VENEERED WITH MAHOGANY 

O^juned by Miss Katharine Van Rensstlaer, Flit Houstf Rtnsselaer, N. T. Set page a6j. 



R,t'5-^"«%ftr-^'->-Jk/^~^v5A-^'-^^^ 







THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

PART 1V« 

Dutch and En^lisK Periods 

NEW YORK FROM 1615 TO 17/6 

■i^/^~^V5I' f^E first pieces of furniture that were landed 
on the shores of the Hudson were probably 
brought in the Fortune^ by Hendrick Chris- 
tiansen of Cleep, who founded in 1615 a 
settlement consisting of four houses with a 
3^^*2«S*^n population of thirty persons. The T/^fr also 
came about the same time under Captain Adrian Blok,and 
these two had received from the States-General of Holland 
the monopoly of trade with New Netherland, consisting 
principally in furs. These ships were followed by the 
hittle FoXy the Nightingale ^ and again the Fortune. In 
1623, the Privileged West India Company sent out thirty 
families, chiefly Walloons; and, in 1625, the colonial au- 
thorities sent a vessel with six families and their household 
furniture. The population was now about two hundred. In 

»35 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

1626. the Arms of Amsterdam arrived, as well as the Sea 
MeWy with Peter Minuit who got the island of Manhattan. 
The Atttis of Amsterdam took back to Holland 8,250 skins 
of beaver, otter, mink, lynx and rat, together with much 
oak timber and nutwood or hickory. This trading-post 
was therefore now a success, but it could not be called a 
town yet. Twenty years later, when Father Jogues visited 
New Amsterdam and was received by Governor Kieft, he 
wrote : ** There is a fort to serve as the commencement of 
a town to be built here and to be called New Amster- 
dam. . . . Within the fort there was a stone church 
which was quite large, the house of the governor whom 
they call Director-General, quite neatly built of brick, the 
storehouses and barracks. On this island of Manhate, and 
in its environs, there may well be four or five hundred men 
of different sects and nations : the Director-General told 
me that there were men of eighteen kinds of languages ; 
they are scattered here and there on the river above and 
below, as the beauty and convenience of the spot invited 
each to settle; some mechanics, however, who ply their 
trade, are ranged under the fort, all the others being ex- 
posed to the incursions of the Indians, who, in the year 
1643, while I was there, had actually killed some two- 
score Hollanders, and burnt many houses and barns full of 
wheat .... When any one first comes to settle in the 
country they lend him horses, cows, etc. ; they give him 
provisions, all which he returns as soon as he is at ease ; 
and as to the land, after ten years he pays to the West 
India Company the tenth of the produce which he 
raises." 

Rensselaerswyck, now Albany, he describes as a colony 
of about a hundred persons residing in some twenty or 

136 



THE FURNITURK OF OVR FORKFATHERS 

thirty houses constructed merely of boards, and thatched, 
there being as yet no masonry except in the chimneys. 

When Governor Stuyvesant arrrived in New Amster- 
dam in 1 647, the town contained about 1 50 dwellings 
with about 700 inhabitants. Most ot the buildings were 
built of wood and thatched with reeds, and some had 
wooden chimneys. Sanitary conditions were almost in- 
conceivably rilthy, and stringent measures were taken for 
the construction of " suitable and convenient houses within 
nine months." There was, consequently, great improve- 
ment in the town during the next ten years. Adrian Van 
der Donck, writing about 1654, describes the fine kitchen 
gardens of the New Netherlands, and mentions peaches, 
apricots, cherries, figs, almonds, persimmons, plums, and 
gooseberries, as well as quinces from fc^ngland. Among 
the flowers introduced, he enumerates various species of red 
and white roses, eglantine, gilly-fiowers, jenoffelins, various 
tulips, crown imperials, white lilies, the fritillaria, anemo- 
nes, baredames, violets, marigolds and many others. In 
1656, there were 120 houses with extensive gardens, and 
1,000 inhabitants. In this year, the first article of the con- 
ditions offered by the Burgomasters of the city of Amster- 
dam to agreement with the West India Company reads: 
"The colonists who are going (to New Amsterdam) shall 
be transported in suitable vessels with their families, house- 
hold furniture and other necessaries." The majority of 
these colonists were of the poorer class, but wealthy mer- 
chants came here in increasing numbers, and the trading- 
post soon became a busy mart. With its extensive water 
front, streams, canals, and meadows, the transplanted Dutch 
town became very homelike. .Vlast of the houses were of 
one story with two rooms, and, rough as most of the fur- 

»37 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

niture undoubtedly was, yet a good deal had come across 
the water. Articles of luxury were already on the spot 
and in demand. In the Albany records for 1654, we 
read : ** Jan Gouw and Harmen Janse wish to sell a certain 
casket inlaid with ebony and other woods." The payment 
was to be made in " good whole beavers . . . within 
twenty-four hours, without an hour longer delay." It was 
bought by Jacob Janse Flodder for thirty beavers and nine- 
teen guilders. This handsome casket, therefore, fetched 
about $125, as beavers were then worth from $3.50 to $4 
each. 

An example of carved oak furniture, such as may have 
been owned by the wealthy Hollanders at the time of the 
first settlement of New Netherland, faces this page. It 
is a curious oak cupboard on a frame, left by Miss Mary 
Campbell to the Albany Institute and Historical and Art 
Society. 

When New Orange finally passed into English posses- 
sion in 1674, ninety -four of its citizens owned estates of 
more than a thousand guilders. Twenty-two of these were 
between five and ten thousand guilders each ; and the 
wealthiest were the following: Johannes van Burgh, 14,- 
000; Jacob Leisler, 15,000; Johannes de Peyster, 15,000; 
Cornelis Van Ruyven, 18,000; Jeronimus Ebbing, 30,000; 
Jno. Lawrence, 40,000 ; Olaf Stevenson Van Cortland, 
45,000 ; Nicholas de Meyer, 50,000 ; Cornelis Steenwyck, 
50,000; and Hendrick Philipsen, 80,000. 

In 1677, there were 368 houses and 3,430 persons in 
New York; in 1686, the numbers had increased to 480 and 
3,800 respectively. In 1689, Albany had 150 houses. 
Thus, at this date, the New York dwelling-house harboured 
from nine to ten persons on an average. Though the 

238 




CARVED OAK CUPBOARD WITH DRAWERS, ON A FRAME 

Otumtd by tht Albany Imtitutt and Historical and Art S»cittj. 




8 






THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

rooms were few, therefore, they had to be large. The 
house of the prosperous merchant was of two stories and 
contained seven or eight rooms. As a rule, the New York 
inventories do not give the contents of separate rooms, but 
the houseof John Winder (died 1675) is one exception. Be- 
sides the shop, it contained six rooms. In the hall were 
four Spanish tables covered with two leather Bristol car- 
pets and two of Turkey-work, a framed table, twelve Tur- 
key-work chairs and one leather chair, two trunks, two 
stands, two looking-glasses, a screen, six earthen pots, brass- 
headed andirons, and a pair of bellows. 

The boys' room contained a bed and a chair. Mr. 
Winder's chamber was furnished with a bedstead, six 
child's beds, two stands, two chests of drawers, four stools 
with covers, two chairs, a close-stool, a rire-pan, andirons, 
dogs and brass tongs. The curtains were of wrought dim- 
ity, a mantel-cloth adorned the chimney, and in the 
drawers was a lot of household linen, besides green cloth 
and new and old tapestry for hangings. The shop was 
furnished for living as well as trade purposes. It contained 
a bedstead with purple curtains and valance, four chairs, 
two stools, and a glass case. The back room had a bed- 
stead and curtains lined with sarcenet, six chairs, a table and 
carpet, a looking-gkvss and andirons. Grey hangings and 
two chimney-cloths adorned this room. Two bedsteads 
and a looking-glass were in the maid's chamber ; and a 
table, a form and six chairs in the kitchen. The house 
was liberally supplied with the usual linen, pewter, earthen- 
ware and utensils. Mr. Winder also possessed 447 ounces 
of silver plate valued at ^'11 1-15-0. 

The above house has an atmosphere of solid comfort. 
There is little of the Dutch feeling about it; it is typical 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



of the English merchant. A glance at 
the homes of others of this class at the 
beginning of the English rule shows the 
same conditions. Nathaniel Sylvester's 
furniture {1680) included four tables, 
six green, ten leather and twelve other 
chairs, a clock, a Turkey-work couch, 
ten feather beds and furniture, two cup- 
boards of drawers, four 
looking-glasses, two great 
chests, and two great 
trunks. Robert Story died 
in 1680 worth ^^7,572- 16- 
6. He owned an old 
ebony chair worth ^4, a 
large chest of drawers, j[^, 
and a large table, ^5, both 
of black walnut. His 
rooms were hung with 
"dornix" (see page 17). 

Early chairs are shown 
on this . and the next 
page. The first, with black 
painted frame and rush-bottom seat, jar-shaped splat, bowed 
top rail and front legs turned and ending in hoof feet, is a 
type frequently seen in the works of the Dutch masters. 
This chair is said to have originally belonged to Annetje 
Jans, who came to the New Netherlands in 1630. She was 
first the wife of Roelof Jansen and after his death was mar- 
ried to Dominie Everadus Bogardus. Her bouwery^ or farm, 
was the land on which Trinity church now stands. The 
chair is the property of Mrs. Blanche Douw Allen, of New 




ANNETJE JANS'S CHAIR 
Owned by Mrs. Blanche Douw Allen, New York, 



140' 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



Vork, having descended to her through 
the Douw family. A similar chair is 
owned by Mr. Clarence Townsend, of 
New York. 

The chair represented on this page 
is painted black and is very heavy and 
solid ; it has four slats, and simple top 
rail arched; its turned posts terminate 
in plain legs, the front legs and front 
stretchers are turned. The seat is hand- 
some crimson damask. This chair has 
long been in the Pruyn fam- 
ily, and is owned by Mr. 
John V. L. Pruyn. 

Facing page 286 is an 
oak armchair of beautiful 
design, the front rail and 
front legs forming a grace- 
ful X, carved with a leaf 
pattern, and a shield bearing 
a lion rampant. The seat is 
of dark red leather fastened 
by brass nails. A cushion of 
the same material is held to 
the sides by brass rings and 
cords. This artistic design is 
familiar through the pictures of the Dutch masters. It be- 
longs to the estate of Mary Parker Corning, and is now in the 
rooms of the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society. 

The difference between New York and New England 
houses was sufficiently marked to strike a stranger. In 
Madame Knight's 'journal (1707), we have direct testi- 

141 




OLD DUTCH CHAIR 

Owned by Mr. John V. L. Pruyn, New York. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

mony : " The Cittie ot New York is a pleasant, well com- 
pacted place situated on a commodious River w** is a fine 
harbour for shipping. The Buildings, Brick generaly, 
very stately and high, though not altogether like ours in 
Boston. The Bricks in some of the Houses are of divers 
Coullers and laid in Checkers, being glazed look verv 
agreeable. The inside of them are neat to admiration, the 
wooden work, for only the walls are plastered, and the 
Sumers * and Gist are plained and kept very white scowr'd, 
as so is all the partitions if made of Bords. The fire- 
places have no Jambs (as ours have). But the Backs run 
flush with the walls, and the Hearth is of Tyles, and is as 
farr out into the Room at the Ends as before the fire, w*^'' 
is generally Five foot in the Low'r rooms, and the peice 
over where the Mantle tree should be is made as ours with 
Joyners work, and I suppose is fasten'd to iron rodds in- 
side. The house where the Vendue was, had Chimney 
Corners like ours, and they and the hearths were laid w*** 
the finest tile that I ever see, and the stair cases laid all 
with white tile, which is ever clean, and so are the walls 
of the Kitchen w'^'' had a Brick floor." 

The above description was written at the end of the 
period now under review, when the town had not yet lost 
much of its Dutch character. The arrangement of the 
common living-room of the ordinary Dutch home can be 
readily reproduced. The most striking feature was the 
ornamental chimney-piece, five feet square, as Mme. Knight 
above explains. The Dutch love of carving is well known. 
When the owner was wealthy, the chimney-piece would 
be quite elaborate with caryatides surmounted by the con- 

* Sumen U the "central beam supporting the joist, such aa is now sometimes called the bearing 
beam." 

24a 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

soles supporting the oak entablature ornamented with mo- 
tives picked out in ebony, or wood stained in imitation. On 
th» cornice, stood various vessels of brass repousse and Delft 
ware. The hearth had a large cast-iron ornamented back, the 
sides being faced with faience tiles often representing per- 
sonages in contemporay costume. Andirons with brass 
handles, heads of dogs, or lions, an iron rack for the fire- 
irons, pot-hooks, spits, ii great " kettle," a pair of bellows, 
a warming-pan, and pewter, brass, or iron candlesticks were 
all to be found about this important feature of the cham- 
ber. Not far away, stood the large table with its carpet, or 
several small ones. At meal times, the wealthy burgher's 
table would be garnished with fine diaper or damask cloth 
and napkins, a great silver salt-cellar of fine workmanship, 
silver beakers, spoons, knives with handles of silver, agate, 
ivory, or mother-of-pearl, an occasional silver fork in wealthy 
homes, -^ jugs, mugs, glasses, plates and dishes of pewter, 
earthenware, or porcelain. Sometimes the glasses, cups, or 
mugs had silver or pewter covers. Near the host's great 
chair would be a large wine-cooler, or cistern of pewter or 
repousse copper. Affixed to the wall is a board with hooks 
and a shelf above. Here hang pots and vessels of all 
shapes and sizes, and on the shelf is some of the fine Delft 
ware in which the mistress takes such pride. There is aLso 
a large provision cupboard, and above it hangs a looking- 
glass with an ebony frame of waved mouldings. Close by 
stands a great linen press, and perhaps a second •* Kas " is 



* Fork* were very tcarce before 1670. In 1668, Governor Eaton be<)ueathes a *' «ylver meat fork " 
to Mn. Abigail NichoU. George Cooke owru one in 1679. Nine niver spoons and six forks cost j^io 
in 1690. It is surprising how long it took for them (o become popular; there was a strange prejudice 
against them. In Nicholas Breton's Tkt Courtur and the Countryman, wc read: ''For us in the 
country, when we have washed our hands after no foul work, nor handling any unwholesome thing, we 
need no little turks to make hay with our mouths, to throw our meat into them." 

H3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

also in the room. A bright and charming Frisian clock 
(such as appears facing page 302) ticks on the wall. In 
the background, a stairway, more or less ornamental, with 
plain banisters or turned balustrading, leads to the rooms 
above; and under it stand casks, and a lantern hangs there 
to light the descent to the cellar. A carved oak glass 
stand, or rack, is also frequently found ; and on it are gob- 
lets and glasses of all dimensions. Pails, brushes, brooms, 
and all the implements for washing and scouring are con- 
veniently at hand. The window, with leaded diamond or 
square panes, has an exterior framing of creepers or rose- 
tendrils. At the entrance, or in the vestibule, were some- 
times to be found faience plates breathing the spirit of easy- 
going good-nature characteristic of the race. A typical 
one bears the legend : 

*' Al wat gij ziet^ en oordeel met. 
Al wat gij hoord^ en geloof niet. 
Al wat gij weet^ en zeg niet. 
Al wat gij vermoogt., en doet niet" 

(Don't judge all that you see. -: 

Don't believe all that you hear. 
Don't utter all that you know. 
Don't do all that you can do.) 

Another plate, representing a grotesquely-garbed indi- 
/idual, reads : 

*' Huijs is noijt 2,ond 
Gikkin die het niet 
In dient de kan verstrekken " 

(This house is never lacking in fools; he who does 
not amuse himself in it can get out.) 

The Friesland clock, mentioned above, is about 200 
years old. It is owned by the Rev. John van Burk, Johns- 

»44 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

town, N. Y., and is in the rooms of the Albany Institute 
and Historical and Art Society. The mermaids, cherubs, 
eagles, and other ornaments upon it present a bewildering 
and beautiful combination of scarlet, blue, white and gold. 
The pictures on and above the dial are delicately painted. 

The wealthy Dutch merchant naturally had more 
numerous and luxurious apartments than the home above 
described. Like his English brother, his rooms were full 
of hangings, bric-a-brac^ porcelains, .plate, and furniture of 
the choicest woods, marquetry and lacquer. We will now 
examine a house of this class. 

Cornelis Steenwyck, the second wealthiest citizen of 
New Amsterdam when it passed into English hands, be- 
came Mayor of New York and died in 1686. His estate, 
including debts, then amounted to ^f 15,931-1 5-1. He 
owned one house south of Bridge Street and east of the 
Fort, £'Joo ; another, a little to the north, ;^300 ; a gar- 
den between the houses of Peter Doriemer and Stephanus 
Van Cortlandt, ^jo ; and " a small slip of ground lying in 
the broad way on the back part of the lot of Laendert 
Vandergrift, 22 feet by 15 feet, ^{"7." Thus Broadway 
real estate was already valuable. His home is a good type of 
that of the wealthy burgher. It was an eight-roomed house 
with cellars, etc. In the (Jreat Chamber, was ^^465-3-75^^ 
in money, besides jewelry worth j^'52-4-0, and 730 ounces 
of silver plate worth £^z 1 9. It was elaborately furnished 
with a round table [J^i) and square table (^10), twelve 
Russia leather and two chairs with fine silver lace, a cabinet 
(j^'6), a great looking-glass (j^6), and a very valuable 
"cupboard or case of French nutwood "(^'20). Fourteen 
fine pictures adorned the walls, and there was a pair of 
flowered tabby curtains for the glass windows and a chim- 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ney-cloth of the vsame material. The ftre-place was sup- 
plied with a ** hearthe iron with brass handles "; and one 
part of the room was given up to a big bedstead with its 
furnishings, and a dressing-box. There was also a ** cap- 
stock," or rack to hang clothes on, besides some table-linen, 
striped tapestry, silver lace, feather plumes, three chamber 
brooms and a carpet. On the chimney-piece and in the 
great cupboard and cabinet were five alabaster images, nine- 
teen porcelain dishes, an ivory compass and two flowered 
earthen pots. All this sounds very luxurious and attractive. 

The Fore Room contained a marble table with wooden 
frame, another table of wood with a carpet, one matted 
and seven Russia leather chairs, one "foot banke," a 
cushion, a clock, eleven pictures, and three curtains over 
the glass windows. This forms a very pleasant sitting- 
room. 

In the ** withdrawing room" were two chairs, a cabi- 
net (;^4), a chest, a trunk, a capstick, a close-stool, a 
cushion, eight pictures, and five china dishes, besides a lot 
of dry-goods. 

The kitchen chamber was evidently the common fam- 
ily living-room. It contained five Russia leather, three 
matted, and four other chairs, an oval table with woolen 
cloth, a bedstead and furniture with iron rods and curtains, 
a case for clothes, two small trunks, two cushions, a chim- 
ney-cloth, a tobacco-pot, a glavss lantern, a looking-glass 
and a great quantity of linen and earthenware. There 
were also three wooden racks for dishes and a " can-board 
with hooks of brass." The latter appears in many a Dutch 
interior of the seventeenth century. 

The other rooms comprised the after-loft, chamber 
above the kitchen, cellar-kitchen, upper chamber for mer- 

Z46 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

chandise, cellar and garret. There was also a small stable, 
and "in the streete" were fir planks, an iron anchor, 
hoard and Holland pan tiles. Among the host of miscel- 
laneous household goods and utensils, we note a "cupboard 
or case of drawers," two painted screens, a tick-tack board, 
a paper-mill, some black lead and blue, tin ware to bake 
sugar cakes, a marsepyn pan (marzipan or marchpane, a 
sweet confection of almond paste and sugar), {£2 ), two tin 
water spouts, thirteen scrubbing and thirty-one rubbing 
brushes, twenty-four pounds of Spanish soap and seven 
brushes. 

The household utensils and domestic conveniences in 
New York were, as a rule, more varied and more numer- 
ous than in New England and the South. Cleaning and 
scrubbing utensils especially were abundant; a few items of 
this nature from inventories before 1 700 are as follows : 
Whitening brushes, scrubbing ditto, painting brushes, hair 
ditto, dust ditto, chamber brooms, "hearth hair brushes 
with brass and wooden handles," hearth brooms, rubbers, 
"brush to clean ye floor," "dust brushes called hogs," floor 
brushes, rake ditto, " Bermudian brooms with sticks," sticks 
to hang the clothes upon, washing tubs, pails, rainwater 
casks, glass knockers to beat clothes, " tin wateren pot to 
wet clothes," wicker baskets, smoothing irons, boards " to 
whet kni\es upon," clothes brushes, leather buckets, fire 
buckets, Dutch hampers and Bermuda baskets, and scrub- 
bers tied with red leather. 

An important personage in Albany was Dom Nicholas 
Van Rensselaer, who died in 1679. His house near the 
mill, worth 1,200 guilders, contained a generous supply of 
linen, china, earthenware, silver plate, pewter, brass and 
iron. The wooden furniture comprised two beds, a chest 

»47 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of drawers, two looking-glasses, a globe of the world, a 
brown table of nutwood, a chest of the same, an oak table, 
a table of pine with six stools or chairs, a sleeping bank 
(see page 250) of pine, an old coffer with a desk, a seal, 
a wooden sand-box and a brush, twenty-one pictures and 
the King's Arms. Some of the miscellaneous articles 
included "an instrument to swim withal, a tin pan to roast 
apples, a flat dish to boil fish on, a brass pocket watch 
that's out of order, and a fflagilet tipt with silver." The 
above furniture was certainly not excessive for four 
rooms, of which this house probably consisted. 

The curious old Dutch chair, seen facing page 286 
(lower left-hand corner), is owned by Mr. Gardner Cotrell 
Leonard, of Albany. It has cabriole front legs ending in 
hoof feet, turned stretchers, a jar-shaped splat and two 
handles, or ears, at the sides. 

The New York inventories give quite a different im- 
pression from those of the South, or even of New England. 
It is plain that the oak age is past. The drawing-table 
(see page 63) still survives, but the newer forms of light fur- 
niture are rapidly driving out the solid and cumbrous styles. 
In the poorer houses, tables and chairs are scarce, and very 
roughly constructed; in the richer homes, the latter are 
good and plentiful. Between 1680 and 1700, a merchant's 
house would contain from thirty to fifty chairs in ad- 
dition to forms and stools. The latter were not numerous. 
Turkey-work, turned, matted, Russia leather (single and 
double nailed), Spanish leather and cane chairs are the 
principal varieties. Typical specimens of the day are shown 
facing page 286 and on page 249. The most ornate, fac- 
ing page 286 (right-hand below), is from the Schuyler 
house, on the Flats, Troy Road, N. Y. Similar chairs 

248 



•*^ a 



\\ 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 





CHAIR FROM WHITEHALL 
Owned by Mr». Cuylcr Ten Eyck, Albany. 



CHAIR FROM WHITEHALL 
Owned by Mrs. Cuyler Ten Eyck, Albany. 



appear also on page 271 and facing page 8. The other 
chairs are owned by Mrs. Cuyler Ten Eyck, Albany, and 
came from her home, Whitehall^ the CJansevoort house. 

Ebony chairs were possessed by a few families. ** P'oot- 
banks" often added to bodily ease. Enough has been said 
about the chairs of the period in former sections, so there 
is no need to dwell on them here. Church chairs, stools 
or stoofts are quite general in the houses ; they were car- 
ried to worship when wanted. One of these, shown facing 
page 250, belongs to Mr. George Douglas Miller, and is 

»49 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

now in the rooms of the Albany Institute and Historical 
and Art Society.* It is painted black and bears a picture 
of the Last Judgment in colours; the angel is seen separat- 
ing the sheep from the goats. Beneath is the date 1 702, 
and the following inscription : 

*■*■ Het oordeel Gotsir nu bereijt 
Het is nogtijt Laet onsinc'tngt 
De vroome van de Boose Scheyt 
Godt beddenom des Heemals ovengt. 

(" The judgment of God is now prepared 
There is still time, leave unwisdom 
The pious will be separated from the wicked 
God's wisdom encircles the universe.") 

Tables are generally the same as elsewhere ; the side or 
sideboard table, with or without drawers, is frequently 
present. 

Though the high-post bedstead was common, in some 
of the Dutch homes the bedstead was a kind of sleeping- 
bunk [slaap-banck)^ a shelf with doors in the wall; this 
bedstead was literally the bed-place and not an ornamen- 
tal piece of furniture. This arrangement is still to be seen 
in many farm-houses of northern Europe, Normandy and 
Brittany, and constantly appears in the pictures of Gerard 
Dou, Jan Steen and other contemporary Dutch painters. 

Little beds, trundle beds (known as slaap banck op rol- 
len)y tent beds with curtains, sleeping benches, press-beds 
and bedsteads "on fold" were other varieties. Slaves had 
to be content with rough sleeping accommodations. A 
temporary shake-down, or rough cot, such as guests had to 
put up with at festival time, was called a Kermesse bed. 
When Jaspar Dankers and Peter Sluyter, the Labadists, 

* This of course is a small stool, but has been reproduced on a very large scale in order to show the 
picture upon it. 

150 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

visited Simon at Gouanes in 1690, they noted in their 
journal : ** It was very late at night when we went to rest 
in a Kermis bed, as it is called, in the corner of the hearth, 
alongside of a good fire." The warming-pan of copper or 
brass was always in requisition. One belonging to Mrs. 
Robert R. Topping, of Albany, is represented facing page 
254 with some other articles now in the rooms of the Al- 
bany Institute and Historical and Art Society. These are 
foot-warmers, owned by Messrs. Bleecker and James B. 
Sanders, and a "scheppel," a Dutch grain measure used in 
the New Netherlands, now owned by Mrs. S. G. Bradt, 
and a trunk belonging to Mrs. Anna de Peyster Douw Mil- 
ler. A fine brass warming-pan, marked with the initials 
of Philip Van Rensselaer, is at Cherry Hill, Albany. 

We also find a multifarious assortment of cooking uten- 
sils and implements, including pots, funnels, pans, cullen- 
ders, kettles, chocolate-pots, apple-roasters, cake and pie 
pans, sugar-cake pans, posset-pans, marchpane-pans, strain- 
ers, fish-kettles, skillets, jacks, spits and trammels. 

Among the miscellaneous household goods mentioned, 
we note steel to strike fire with, tinder-box, candle-box, 
rack, spice-box, kettle-bench, mustard-querne, spoon-rack, 
thing to put spoons in, sand-box, tobacco-box, spue-box 
(which sometimes had a drawer), paper-mill, frame for 
clothes to hang, rack to hang clothes and caps upon, hour- 
glass, weather-glass, dressing-stick and board, comb-box, 
black walnut paper-box and rolling board for linen. 

The attention paid to the comfort of children is often 
apparent. Among the frequent entries are children's bed- 
steads, cribs, cradles, small children's trunks, child's stools, 
sucking-bottles, nurse-chairs, rocking-chairs, childbed bas- 
kets, and toys and playthings. *• Fenders to keep children 

151 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

from the fire" are specially mentioned. Three interesting 
pictures appear facing page 258 and on page 253. 

The first represents a cradle belonging to the Pruyn fam- 
ily and a child's rocking-chair used by Sarah Lansing. Be- 
hind this stand two fire-screens (the latter belonging to the 
estate of Mary Parker Corning) now in the Albany Insti- 
tute and Historical and Art Society. 

The second shows an old cradle covered with leather 
and ornamented with brass nails also forming date 1749, 
and a child's high chair, with turned posts and stretchers, 
and bearing a bar for the feet. The seat is covered with 
leather. These pieces have always been in the Van 
Rensselaer family, and are now owned by Mrs. H. Van 
Rensselaer Gould, of East Orange, N. J.,and are preserved 
in the Van Rensselaer house. Cherry Hilly Albany. 

The third is a child's chair long in the Lansing fam- 
ily. This belongs to Miss Anna Lansing in Albany. The 
"tip and turn" tea-table of mahogany with ball-and-claw 
feet is of later date. This also belongs to Miss Lansing. 

For lighting the halls and rooms, there were lanterns, 
earthen and other lamps and a great variety of candlesticks. 
These were of pewter, tin, iron, brass and more precious 
metals. Silver candlesticks were not rare, and some of these 
were of elaborate form and workmanship. Besides the 
simpler kinds that stood on tables and shelves, there were 
high-branched standing candlesticks, sconces and arms 
on the walls, and candelabra hanging from the ceilings. 
A double brass hanging candlestick with snuffers and 
extinguisher was worth ^1-4-0 in 1696. Some of the 
varieties were hand-candlesticks, brass hanging and handle 
candlesticks, brass standing ditto, standing ditto with 
two brass candlesticks to it, and brass-plated candlestick. 

252 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Cornelis Van Dyke (1686), whose estate amounted to 
1,428 beavers, had a typical mixture of furniture in his 
house. One room contained a wahiut bedstead with 
dark say hangings and silk fringe, a walnut chest contain- 
ing a spare suit of serge hangings, a painted chest of 
drawers, ** a walnut chest of drawers with a press for nap- 





A CHILD S CHAIR AND MAHCX3ANY TEA TABl.K 
Owned by Miss Anna Lansing, Albany. S«e page 252 

kins atop of it," an oak chest of drawers, an oak table and 
carpet, eight Spanish stools, a walnut capstock to hang 
clothes upon, a red table that folds up, an old case without 
bottles, a hanging about a chimney ; and the usual linen 
brass, pewter, earthenware and glass. The Fore Room 
was furnished with a bedstead and green say suit of hang- 
ings, another bedstead of oak, a painted chest of drawers, 
a wooden table, ten matted chairs, a Spanish leather stool. 



»si 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

a looking-glass, three pictures, '* tour racks that the pewter 
stands on and earthenware," a desk, a pewter standish, a 
painted eight-cornered table, three chests, a leather hat 
case, andirons, fire-irons, bellows, long and short handled 
brushes and the usual kitchen stuff. In the shop was a 
sleeping bed of pine wood and bedding for the servant, and 
"before the door a wooden sleigh." 

From the above examples, it is evident that in the aver- 
age home there was no distinction between sitting- and 
sleeping-rooms, and the hall is rarely named as an apart- 
ment, but that in the richest families the rooms were some- 
times reserved for distinct purposes. Col. Lewis Morris 
(169 1, j^'4928-17-1 ) had a bed in his dining-room as well 
as in the great room and lodging-room, Thomas Crun- 
dell's hall (1692) contained a bed. The other furniture in 
this hall consisted of small square and large oval tables, cup- 
board, black walnut chest of drawers, glass case of the same 
wood, seven leather and three Turkey-work chairs, a 
chamber screen, andirons, etc. The chimney-cloth was of 
fringed calico, and one large and three small landscapes 
were on the walls. 

The wives of the wealthier citizens had their own 
apartments to which they could retire for rest or privacy. 
Some of these were quite luxuriously furnished. William 
Cox was a rich merchant, who died in 1689. His 
widow's chamber contained a chest of drawers on a frame, 
a side table with drawers, a chest of drawers and a dress- 
ing-box, a glass case, twelve Turkey chairs, a large look- 
ing-glass, a silver ditto, and a bed with serge curtains and 
valance with silk fringe. 

By this time, many a Vanderdecken had weathered the 
Cape, and the beautiful fabrics and strange productions of 

154 




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OLD CRADLE, CHILD'S ROCKING-CHAIR AND TWO FIRE-SCREENS 

In the Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society. See page 252. 



VAN RENSSELAER CRADLE AND CHILD'S CHAIR 
Owned by Mrs. Gould. See page 252. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the affluent East had found their way into every trade cen- 
tre. Oriental goods give a characteristic note to the rooms 
of every prosperous Dutchman of the day. Porcelains, 
lacquer goods, silk and cotton fabrics, carved wood and 
ivory, and wrought metals were brought here almost as 
freely as they are to-day. There is scarcely an inventory of 
a person of ample means after 1675 that does not contain 
some article of Eastern origin. 

New York was an exceedingly busy mart, and English 
and Dutch and other vessels unloaded at her wharves 
merchandise as varied as was to be had in London or Am- 
sterdam. Thriving as this trade emporium now was, legi- 
timate commerce did not satisfy many of the merchants, 
who, as is well known, were none too scrupulous; they 
had no hesitation in breaking the laws of trade whenever 
possible, and pirates received much sympathy and aid. 
Ships were even sent with supplies to the pirates' haunts 
and returned with miscellaneous plunder and successful 
pirates, who had come home to retire in comfort on the 
fruits of their industry. The Earl of Bellomont was sent 
out as Governor in 1697 to stop the illegal traffic. He and 
others had entered into a commercial venture with a citi- 
zen and ex-privateer of New York, named Captain William 
Kidd, with the object of exterminating piracy. Every- 
body knows the outcome of this scheme. In 1692, Ca{>- 
tain Kidd was a respectable member of society and mar- 
ried Sarah, the widow of John Ort who had been dead 
only a few months. It may be interesting to see the 
household goods that the future pirate acquired by this 
marriage. 

There were five tables, one of which was oval, with six 
carpets; eighteen Turkey-work, twenty-foursingle-nailcd and 

»5S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

twelve double-nailed leather chairs ; three chests of drawers, 
a glass case, two stands, two dressing-boxes, a desk, a screen, 
four looking-glasses, a clock, four curtained beds, two pairs 
of andirons, two fenders, three sets of fire-irons, three chaf- 
ing-dishes, four brass, four tin and four pewter candle- 
sticks, five leather buckets, 104 ounces of silver plate, 
twelve drinking-glasses, and the usual bedding, linen, pew- 
ter and kitchen stuff. With the addition of his own ef- 
fects, therefore. Captain Kidd's home was quite luxurious. 

The contents of the houses constantly bear evidence of 
the extent of New York's foreign trade and imply that 
little of the good furniture was made here. The new 
styles that the Dutch had borrowed from the East were 
rapidly growing in favour. Marquetry, already spoken of 
on page 68, beautiful examples of which appear facing 
page 262 and page 296, owned by Mrs. William Gor- 
ham Rice, of Albany, and Mr. John V. L. Pruyn, of 
New York, was becoming a leading feature of furniture 
decoration, and objects of strange shapes with inlay of 
exotic woods were gradually eclipsing the old cabinets, 
chests of drawers, cupboards and tables with mouldings and 
mathematical patterns of ebony and imitation ebony. The 
more picturesque and pictorial marquetry and the bombe 
forms and cabriole legs had practically superseded the 
severe oak by 1690. William of Orange was now in 
England, and the new Dutch furniture was all the rage. 
Walnut was principally used, but chestnut was also in de- 
mand, and much hickory reached Holland from this side. 
The Dutch recognized the value of mahogany in cabinet- 
making earlier than is usually thought. 

Stray pieces of mahogany unquestionably existed in 
New York and perhaps in New England and the South at 

256 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

this date. It is probable that the " fine red chest of draw- 
ers," belonging to Thomas Tyler, of Boston (1691), was 
composed of mahogany. The '* red table that folds up," 
already mentioned in the inventory of Cornelis Van Dyke 
(1686), looks suspiciously like mahogany, and there is no 




MAHOGANY TABLE 

In the Van Cortlandt Houtr, Croton-un-the-Hudton. 



telling how long he had possessed it. The same remark 
applies to the "cupboard of Cashoes tree, j^i-io-o," be- 
longing to James Laty, of Jamaica, L. I., six years later. 
Cashoes is, of course, mahogany (Dutch, kasjoe ; Brazilian, 
acajoba ; French, acajou). An early specimen of mahog- 
any represented on this page belongs to Miss Anne Van 
Cortlandt at Croton-on-the-Hudson ; it is said to have 



»S7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

been brought from Holland by Olaf Stevenson Van Cort- 
landt in 1668 on his return from a visit to his fatherland. 
This, as well as the next example, closely follows the pattern 
of the seventeenth century oak tables (see pages 1 1 and 97). 
In transitional periods, styles overlap and the old forms are 
often clung to after the new have been introduced. It is 
quite possible, however, that the mahogany table belong- 
ing to Miss Van Cortlandt is, in fact, an early mahogany 
example of the seventeenth century. The second table, 
facing page 260, belonged to Sir William Johnson, and is 
loaned to the Albany Institute and Historical and Art 
Society by the heirs of the late Gen. John Taylor Cooper. 
The wood is very rich red, the leaves drop on hinges at 
each end, and are supported by legs that fold. Its height 
is 29^8 inches; its length 6 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 11 
inches across the shortest diameter. This piece of furni- 
ture was confiscated in 1776, and was purchased by the 
Hon. John Taylor. 

It is not, however, the new Dutch furniture designed 
under the influence of the Orient that is noticeable in New 
York houses, so much as the actual products in wood and 
lacquer of those remote realms. Many a house contained 
cabinets, baskets, trays, images and ceramics of all kinds 
that had come direct from the Far East. Among others 
we may select the following: 

Christina Cappoens ( 1687) had an " Eestindia Cabbenet 
with four black ebben feet,^2-io-o." Margarita Van Varick 
(1696), had "five silver wrought East India boxes, three 
ditto cups, two ditto dishes, one ditto trunk, a Moorivsh to- 
bacco pipe, a small ebony trunk with silver handles, an 
East India cabinet with ebony feet wrought, two East In- 
dia cabinets with brass handles, a small black cabinet with 

258 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

silver handles, eleven Indian babyes, ten Indian looking- 
glasses, two East India cane baskets with covers, a fine East 
India dressing-basket, a round ditto, two East India cane 
baskets with covers, two wooden guilt East India trays 
lackered, one round thing ditto, thirteen East India pic- 
tures, a fine East India square guilt basket and a carved 
wooden thing," and quantities of porcelain. 

Perhaps also ** thirteen ebony chairs, a small gold box 
as big as a pea, a gold piece the shape of a diamond, a 
gold bell and chain, two gold medals, a small mother-of- 
pearl box and fifty-five pieces silver playthings or toys" 
may have come from the East. Mr. Jacob De Lange 
(1685) also owned "one waxed East India small trunk, 
one square black small sealing-waxed box, one silver 
thread-wrought small trunk, one ivory small trunk tipt 
with silver, two small square cabinets with brass hoops, 
one East India basket, one East India cubbet, five small 
East India boxes, one East India waxed cabinet with brass 
bands and hinges with four partitions, one small East In- 
dia rush case containing nineteen wine and beer glasses, 
one small waxed East India trunk, one ivory small trunk 
tipped with silver, one square black small sealing-waxed 
box, one silver thread-wrought small trunk, a gold boat 
wherein thirteen diamants to one white coral chain and 
one East India basket." 

If, in addition to Oriental products, we examine the 
porcelain, earthenware and pictures belonging to Mrs. 
Van Varick and to Mr. I)e Lange, a rich barber-surgeon, 
respectively, we shall have a very clear view of the best 
that was procurable at the close of the third quarter of the 
seventeenth century. The ** Chvrurgian's" inventory 
( 1685, ;t 740- 1 7-7), includes: " Purcelaine. In the cham- 

»$9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ber before the chimney. Seven half basons (^12-15-0), 
two belly flagons, three white men, one sugar pot, two 
small pots, six small porrengers, one small goblet " (all 
^^2-14-0). Thus we see how a chimney-piece was deco- 
rated. The six plates were naturally stood on end. Upon the 
case, or kas^ were two great basons, one great goblet, two 
pots, two flasks and four drinking glasses; — total ^'4-16-0. 
Other porcelain, some of which was evidently for sale, in- 
cluded: "Five drillings, thirty butter dishes, six double 
ditto, seven small tea pots, two white ditto, one can with a 
silver joint, one ditto with a joint, five small basons, one 
barber's ditto, sixty-seven saucers, four salt sellers, three 
small mustard pots, five oil pots, one small pot, 1 27 tea 
pots, three small men, two fruit dishes." The total value 
of this chinaware was ^'15-11-6 The earthenware 
comprised "two small cups, one bason, one small oil can, 
one small spice pot, five saucers, six small men, one small 
dog, two small swans, one small duck." These were all 
worth only ten shillings. In addition, there were ** ten 
white dishes, seven white and blue ditto, two flat white 
basons, one white cup, one salt seller, one mustard pot, 
twenty-one trenchers, one chamber pot, one pan with pew- 
ter cover. Red earthenware : Five small saucepans, three 
stew pans, four pots, one strainer, two small dishes, two 
jars." Mrs. Van Varick's porcelain was as follows: 
" Three cheenie pots, one ditto cup bound with silver, two 
glassen cases with thirty-nine pieces of small chinaware and 
eleven Indian babyes, also six small and six larger china 
dishes, twenty-three pieces of chinaware, two white china 
cups with covers, one parcel toys (^'2-10-0), three tea 
pots, one cistern and basin, fourteen china dishes, three 
large ditto, three ditto basons, three smaller ditto^ three fine 

260 




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MARQUETRY CUPBOARD AND DRAWERS 

Owned by Mrs. IVilliam Gorham Rice^ Albany. See page 2^6. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

china cups, one ditto jug, four ditto saucers, seven ditto 
smaller tea dishes, six painted tea ditto, four tea ditto, 
eight tea cups, four ditto painted brown, six small ditto, 
three ditto painted red and blue, three white East India 
Hower pots, three ditto smaller, three ditto round, one 
china ink box, one lion, one china image." Other articles 
of this class were : Eight white earthen plates, one tea dish, 
two cups, six wooden tumblers, one carved wooden thing, 
and three wooden dishes painted. Besides her Eastern 
cabinets, already described, this lady had other pieces of 
furniture for the safe-keeping and display of her precious 
china. First, perhaps, comes " one great Dutch kas^ which 
could not be removed from Flatbush," and was therefore 
sold for ;f 25. This must have been a very fine piece of 
carved and inlaid work. Then we have a " painted 
wooden rack to set chinaware in." The value, £\-j-o^ 
shows that either the painting or carving was elaborate. A 
wooden tray, a wooden tray with feet, and a small oval 
painted table also occur. 

One of the most varied assortments of household goods 
belonged to the above Jacob De Lange. His house con- 
tained a fore room, side chamber, chamber, shop, kitchen and 
cellar. Besides the Oriental goods already mentioned, he 
owned twelve chairs of red and six of green plush, and 
eleven matted. Then there were seven wooden backs, two 
can boards, two small cloak boards, a hat press, a church 
chair, a clothes press, a small square cabinet with brass 
hoops, a cupboard with glass front, ** a black nut chest, 
found under them two black feet," one oak drawing and 
two round tables. His pictures numbered fifty-five. In 
the side chamber were " a small zea, an evening, four pic- 
tures countreys and five East India pictures with red lists" 

161 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

(list=frame). The fore-room was adorned with "a great 
picture being a banquet with a black list, one ditto some- 
thing smaller, one ditto one bunch of grapes with a pome- 
granate, one ditto with apricocks, one ditto a small coun- 
try, one ditto a Break of Day, one ditto a Small Winter, 
one small ditto a Cobler, a Portraturing of My Lord 
Speelman, a board with a black list wherein the coat-of- 
arms of Mr. De Lange." These landscapes, marines, in- 
teriors and still life of the Dutch vschool would be prized 
in any house to-day. It is interesting, however, to note 
that the owner's coat-of-arms was valued at j^'5-4-0, while 
all the other pictures in the room totalled only ^^8. The 
Chamber contained "one great picture banquetts, one ditto, 
one small ditto, one ditto Abraham and Hagar, four small 
countreys, two small ditto, one flower pot, one small ditto, 
one country people frolic, one portraiture, one sea strand, 
one plucked cock torn, two small countreys, one small print 
broken, one flower pot small without a list, thirteen East 
India prints past upon paper." These pictures, many of 
which were, doubtless, by celebrated masters, reached the 
grand total of ^19-7-6 ! 

Pictures are found in considerable numbers in all opu- 
lent houses. Thirty-eight were owned by Cornelis Steen- 
wyck, but the subjects are not recorded. Christina Cap- 
pons, 1687, owned ** two rosen picters, one ditto a ship, 
one ditto of ye city of Amsterdam, two ditto small upon 
boards, ten small picters, one great ditto with a broken list, 
three small gilded ditto." These were collectively worth 
/2-0-6. 

Besides two pictures not described, John Van Zee, 
1689, had one of Julius Caesar and another of Scipio Afri- 
canus. '* Landskips " are plentiful. Margarita Van Var- 

262 



THE FURNITURK OK OUR FORKFATHERS 

ick, 1696, owned thirty-nine pictures, including portraits 
of herself and relations, " three pictures of ships with black 
ebony frame, one ditto of the Apostle, one ditto of fruit, 
one ditto of a battle, one ditto landskip, one ditto large 
flower pot, one ditto with a rummer, one ditto bird cage 
and purse, etc., one large horse battle, one large picture 
with roots." The others included prints and pictures with 
ebony, black and gilt frames. In some houses the chim- 
ney-piece was not very high, especially towards the end of 
the century. In this case the space above it was rilled with 
a large picture which was specially named. Thus, Mrs. 
Van Varick possessed " a large picture of images, sheep, 
and ships that hung above the chimney." The walls of 
the rooms of the bevSt houses were thus amply decorated ; 
and with the gay hangings, table and chimney-cloths, and 
cushions, the efl^ect was exceedingly bright and rich. It may 
be noted that wherever there was a board or shelf it received 
some covering. The chests of drawers and dressing-tables 
were often covered with a cloth called a toilet or twilight 
towards the end of the century. Cornelis Jacobs (1700) 
has •* one white cloth for chist drawers muslin." Mrs. 
Van V^arick's chimney-cloths and curtains, which matched, 
were green serge with silk fringe and flowered crimson 
gauze. She also had a painted chimney-cloth, six satin 
cushions with gold flowers, white flowered muslin curtains, 
two fine Turkey-work carpets, chintz flowered and blue 
flowered carpets, and a flowered carpet stitched with gold, 
besides many other cloths and hangings. The "cup- 
boards" and "cases" in which the china was kept, espe- 
cially those with glass fronts, also had cloths on the shelves. 
" Six cloths which they put upon the boards in the case " 
is an entry in the inventory of Jacob De Lange. 

163 



THE FURNITURE OP OUR FOREFATHERS 

The cupboards and cases in which china was kept may 
have been similar to those represented facing this page and 
page 272, both of which belong to Mr. George Douglas 
Miller of Albany, and are in the rooms of the Albany In- 
stitute and Historical and Art Society. 

The kas^ or kos^ was the most important article of fur- 
niture in the ordinary Dutch house. It is almost invari- 
ably found, often attaining enormous dimensions and 
seeming almost to form part of the house itself. Before 
the rage for antique furniture arose not many years ago, 
superb presses of this class might still be found in very 
modest Dutch dwellings. They were, and where they 
exist, still are, looked after with special care, and lovingly 
rubbed, oiled and varnished. They often had tall and 
massive columns with broadly-carved capitals, and carving 
abounded along their edges and mouldings. Beautiful 
tones, enriched by the centuries, mingled in the contrasted 
oak, walnut, and blackened pear woods. They had a most 
impressive air that seemed disdainful of the rest of the 
furniture. In a chamber adorned with Oriental produc- 
tions, their severity produced a most striking effect. The 
dealers in antiques have stripped most of the small houses 
of these great wardrobe presses, but a few specimens that 
excite the admiration of tourists and travellers are still to 
be seen in Gueldres and North Holland. They seem to 
have been universal in the New Netherlands, and the inven- 
tories show that they lingered here long after the rest of 
the furniture of their day had departed, — more on account 
of their usefulness even than their beauty, in all probability. 
That they were highly prized is plain from the fact of their 
frequent appearance in wills as special bequests. Two in- 
stances will suffice: Judith, widow of Peter Stuyvesant, 

264 




GLASS CASE ON FRAME (MARQUETRY) 

Chvjud by Mr. George Douglas Milter^ Albany. See page j66> 




WALNUT KAS 

Owned by Mijj Catharine Van Cortlandt Matthews, Croton-on-tbe'Hudion, N. T. See page 266, 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

bequeaths to her son Nicholaes among other things: ** My 
great case or cubbard standing at the house of Mr. 
Johannes Van Brugh, together with all the china earthen- 
ware locked up in said cubbard." Again, in 1687, Mary 
Mathewes leaves to her granddaughter, Hester Erwin : a 
bed and furniture, two silk coats and ** one certain great 
black walnut cupboard standing in my new dwelling- 
house." Margarita Van Varick's kas that was too massive to 
be moved has already been noted. (See page 261.) Mr. De 
Lange's great kas is thus described: "One great cloth [esl 
case covered with French nutwood and two black 
knots under it, ^^ 13-0-0." Other examples are: A great 
press (J no. Sharpe, 1681) ; a cupboard or case of drawers, 
^9, and a cupboard or case of French nutwood, j^20 
(Cornelis Steenwyck) ; a small oak case, j^*i-io-o 
(Glaunde Germonpre van Gitts, 1687); a white oak cup- 
board, jf 2-5-0 (Jacob Sanford, 1688); a large cupboard, 
£6 (Widow Burdene, 1690) ; a "cupboard for clowes," a 
press and porcelain, ^^5, "a Holland cubbart furnished with 
earthenware and porcelain, ;^I5" (F. Rombouts, 1692); a 
great black walnut cupboard, ;^io, and a Dutch painted 
cupboard, £\ (Abram Delanoy, 1702); a black walnut 
cupboard, £() (Jeremias Westerhout, 1703); a "case of 
nutwood," £\o (J no. Abeel, 171 2). 

The high prices of many of the above show that they 
must have been of fine workmanship. Sometimes they 
stood on square feet and sometimes on the favourite 
Dutch ball, or " knot," as the appraiser describes it. 
Humphrey Hall (1696) owned "a chest of drawers with 
balls at the feet, ^'1-16-0; ditto one loss, ^^'i-i 0-0." This 
ball that is such a conspicuous feature in seventeenth-cen- 
tury furniture was sometimes flattened. We have seen it 

»6s 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



in the bedposts, under 
chests and in table legs. 
The ball-and-claw foot 
that succeeded it ap- 
peared before the close 
of the century and re- 
mained in favour almost 
a century. The cases 
with glass or solid doors 
frequently stood on 
"stands" or "frames" 
with four or six legs on 
which the bulb, though 
reduced in size, was still 
conspicuous (see facing 
264). Sometimes the 
porcelain cupboards, 
cases or cabinets stood on 
a base that was closed 
with doors. Mr. De 

Owned by Mrs. H. Van Rensselaer Gould at C^^rry ///'//, LaUge OWned 2. **CUp- 
Albany. Sec this page. ® ^ 

board with a glass," j[i- 
5-0. A good example of the latter variety appears facing 
page 272. The kas on this page is a Van Rensselaer 
piece and belongs to Mrs. H. Van Rensselaer Gould, 
of East Orange, N. J., but it is preserved at Cherry Hill, 
Albany. It is mahogany with ball-and-claw feet. The 
four drawers are furnished with brass handles. In the cup- 
board above, the shelves run the whole length. On either 
side of the doors are fluted columns. 

The kas facing this page also stands on ball-and-claw 
feet, but is made of walnut. A kind of Chinese pattern 

s66 




MAHOGANY KAS 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

runs along the top. The drawers have brass handles. This 
piece was partly burned by the Hessians during the Revo- 
lution. It is owned by Miss Catharine Van Cortlandt 
Matthews, at Croton-on-the-Hudson, N. Y. 

An example of the great kas^ belonging to Mrs. John 
V. L. Pruyn, faces page 270. It is of marquetry orna- 
mented with plaques of blue and white Delft. 

A very interesting specimen facing page 235 is a 
walnut kas, veneered with mahogany, now owned by Miss 
Katharine Van Rensselaer, at the Vlie House ^ Rensselaer, 
N. Y. It is more than seven feet high. Two large 
balls form the front feet; the doors and two lower 
drawers are panelled. The carving consists of flowers 
bound together with cords and tassels (one of the latter is 
missing). Heads of cherubs and grotesque animals appear 
on the corners, and in the centre of the top moulding and 
between the two drawers. This originally belonged to Kath- 
arine Van Burgh (daughter of Johannes Van Burgh and 
Sara Cuyler, among the first settlers on Manhattan Island), 
given to her on her marriage to Philip Livingston (grand- 
son of Philip Schuyler) ; it descended to the present 
owner through the marriage of Stephen Van Rensselaer, 
the eighth patroon of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, with 
Katharine Livingston, granddaughter of Katharine V^an 
Burgh. 

It is safe to say that the greater part of the good furni- 
ture found in New York was imported. Among the 
merchandise brought in by the ship Robert uv 1687 was a 
cane chair. In the same year the Amity of London, besides 
barrels, kegs, firkins, casks and puncheons, brought 1 3 
trunks, i 2 chests, 6 boxes, 3 cases, 9 bundles, 4 parcels of 
bedding, 3 kettles, a pot, spit, basket, fire tongs, shovel, 

a67 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

bellows, desk and kas. Another lot of furniture on board 
consisted of 2 tables, 2 bundles of chairs, a chest of draw- 
ers, bed, trunk, 2 boxes, spit and jack. In 1686, the 
Bachelour^ also from London, had dry goods, brandy, claret 
and Rhenish wine, a saddle-horse with furniture, lanterns, 
Hat-foot candlesticks, funnels, saucepans, kettles, porringers, 
spoons, basins, chest of drawers, table and frame, suits oj 
curtains and valance, close-stool and looking-glass. Therv. 
were, however, some workmen here who were capable of 
making good furniture, and all the necessary fine timber 
was on the spot. The Labadists, who visited New York in 
1689, remark on the thick woods with which the shores 
of the bay were covered. Timber was exported in large 
quantities, and was wastefuUy used for fuel. The Labad- 
ists note : " We found a good fire, halfway up the chimney, 
of clear oak and hickory, of which they made not the 
least scruple of burning profusely." In 1710, " i^/^ cords 
Nutten wood for the fire, ^0-15-0," belonged to Isaac 
Pinchiero. Nutwood, as we have already seen, was hick- 
ory. Boards that may have been used in the construction 
of furniture are frequently found in the inventories. C. 
Steenwyck (1686) has 14 French nut boards, ;^3-3-o ; C. 
Cappoens (1687), 2 black walnut boards, ^0-9-0; F. 
Richardson (1688), some walnut boards, ^'o-io-o; and T. 
Davids (1688), 260 oak and chestnut planks. It is rea- 
sonable to assume that the cheap pine tables, forms, and 
chests were made here ; probably, also, most of the maple 
and hickory furniture came from local workshops. Cedar 
wc know was largely used. In 1703, Matthew Clarkson 
owned "one fine chest of drawers and other things fitting 
of maple wood ; " and in 1707 Morton Peterson had " one 
cupbard of cedar home made, £1.'' The examples al- 

268 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ready given show that the cupboards and kasses were usu- 
ally made of white oak or black walnut. 

Expensive marquetry, as well as Oriental goods, was 
occasionally imported. In 1705, Colonel William Smith, 
of St. George's, owned a fine chest of drawers of walnut 
and olive wood worth as much as ^^15. The latter wood 
was common in looking-glass frames, and other articles 
were sometimes composed of it. In 1692, Lawrence Del- 
dyke owned an olive wood cabinet. 

The inventories quoted above would prove th?t the 
Dutch in the New Netherlands were possessed of wealth. 
We have contemporary testimony from the Rev. John 
Miller, who, in describing New York in 1695, writes: 
" The number of inhabitants in this province are about 
3,000 families, whereof almost one-half are naturally Dutch, 
a great part English and the rest French. ... As to their 
religion, they are very much divided ; few of them intel- 
ligent and sincere, but the most part ignorant and con- 
ceited, fickle and regardless. As to their wealth and dis- 
position thereto, the Dutch are rich and sparing; the 
English neither very rich, nor too great husbands; the 
French are poor, and therefore forced to be penurious. As 
to their way of trade and dealing, they are all generally 
cunning and crafty, but many of them not so just to their 
words as they should be." 

Before closing the Dutch period, one feature of the large 
iiouse must be mentioned, — the Doten-Kammer^ a room al- 
ways kept shut up until a season of mourning and funerals. 
It was generally furnished as a bedroom; the high-post bed- 
stead was hung with white curtains, and the chest of draw- 
ers contained burial clothing. One of the longest preserved 
of these rooms was that of Whitehall^ the Ganscvoort home. 

269 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, New York 
was already an important place. Wealth and some degree 
of fashion were to be found there. The distinguished 
Earl of Bellomont and his successor, the wild Lord Corn- 
bury, were accustomed to the best that money could pro- 
cure at that day. The extracts from the inventories 
show that New York compared very favourably with 
Amsterdam and London. A visitor, describing the town in 




OLD CHEST WITH DRAWER AND DROP HANDLES 
Owned by Miss Anna Lansing, Albany. See page 271. 

1 70 1, says that it is built of brick and stone and covered 
with red and black tile, producing a very pleasing appear- 
ance from a distance. He adds: "Though their low- 
roofed houses may seem to shut their doors against pride 
and luxury, yet how do they stand wide open to let charity 
in and out, either to assist each other, or to relieve a stran- 
ger." For the next twenty years, we do not notice any 
great changes in the furniture. The old Turkey-work, 
Russia leather and cane chairs still linger, and the matted 
chairs are universal. The latter are usually black. Wal- 
nut is the favourite wood, and mahogany is scarcely ever 

170 




KAS OF MARQUETRY WITH PLAQUES OF BLUE AND WHITE 

DELFT 

Owntd by Mrs. Jobm V. L. Prujm, Albany, Set page 267. 




CHINA CUPBOARD (MARQUETRY) 

Chvned by Mr. George Douglas Miller, Albany. See page 266. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



UoUUiiL CmJLa 



THREE CHAIRS 



Ownrd by Mist Anna Lanang, Albany. The central chair of carved oalc is from the Cocymant 
family ^ the othen belonged to Abraham Yates. See page 272. 

mentioned. Olive wood is by no means scarce, as chests 
of drawers and tables, as well as looking-glass frames (see 
facing page 230), are made of it. Black walnut and Dutch 
painted cupboards hold their own. Chests are plentiful, 
ball feet and brass handles being often mentioned. ChevSts, 
such as the one with drawer on page 270, long in 
the Lansing family and now owned by Miss Anna Lansing, 
of Albany, are very common. A wealthy home of this 
time contains a great variety of chairs, old and new ; the 
old drawing-table almost entirely disappears ; the tea-table 
multiplies ; the cupboard is gradually relinquished as the 
** beaurtt," or china shelves and cupboard, takes its place ; 
drcvssing-tables and chests of drawers, with looking-glasses, 
are plentiful ; Dutch styles prevail and stiffness is entirely 

»7« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




CHAIRS 

Owned by Miss Anna Van Vechten, Albany, N. Y. The one to the right is a Schuyler piece, 
the next a Dutch chair owned by Teunis Van Vechten, and the two others come from the Lush family. 



banished. Fashionable chairs occur on page 271 and here. 
Page 271 shows two chairs originally owned by Abraham 
Yates, and a carved chair of the style now going out of 
fashion, that belonged to the Coeymans family and de- 
scended to the present owner through the Ten Eycks. 
These pieces are owned by Miss Anna Lansing, of Albany. 

On this page appear an old chair painted black, orig- 
inally cane, that was brought from Holland by Teunis Van 
Vechten, a fashionable chair owned by the Schuyler family, 
and two chairs to the left that belonged to the Lush 
family, the one to the extreme left being of a still later 
period. These four specimens are owned by Miss Anna 
Van Vechten, Albany. 

Captain Giles Shelley, of New York, died in 171 8 
with a personalty of ^6812-16-7^ . His house con- 
tained a medley that is typical of this transition period. 



»7a 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

There were seventy chairs, of which six were Turkey- 
work, twenty-one cane, twenty-seven matted, twelve 
leather, one easy, two elbow, and one red plush elbow. 
One painted and three other large and small oval were 
among the fourteen tables. Of three clocks, one was re- 
peating. Five looking-glassses, three pairs of gilt sconces, 
one hanging and many other candlesticks and lamps, lots 
of silver plate, brass, china lions, images, porcelain and 
glass gave light and brilliancy to the rooms, the walls of 
which were also adorned with seventy-seven pictures and 
prints in black and gilt frames. Colour was added by 
bright curtains and arras hangings. The position of one 
fine picture is expressly stated ; it is a " landskip chimney- 
piece." Two chests of drawers and another with a look- 
ing-glass, a dressing-box, a cane couch, a cupboard, five 
chests and seven or eight bedsteads constituted the re- 
mainder of the important wooden furniture. The princi- 
pal bed curtains were of red china, blue shalloon, calico, 
silk muslin and white muslin inside, and striped muslin 
lined with calico. Among the miscellaneous household 
goods, of which there was a great quantity, the following 
are noticeable: a brass hearth with hooks for shovels and 
tongs, four hand fire-screens, a pair of tables and men, a 
pair of tables, box-dice and men, two brass ring-stands, a 
plate-stand, two silver chafing-dishes, a wind-up Jack with 
pullies and weights, two tea-trays, a red tea-pot, a cruet, a 
work-basket, a flowered muslin toilet, a red and gold satin 
carj>et. 

George Duncan, also of New York, whose goods were* 
valued at ;^4099-8-5^ in 1724, shows a still further ad- 
vance from the old styles, though no mahogany is speci- 
fically mentioned. The chairs were "old," black, matted 

«73 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and cane. The most noticeable pieces of furniture of value 
are an olive wood chest of drawers ; an inlaid scriptore, 
j[6-^-o ; a cedar ditto, j[2 ; a bedstead with dimity cur- 
tains lined with white damask, ^^ 10-5-0 ; a large looking- 
glass, ;^ 4-5-0 ; a clock and case, ^£^10; and a plate case 
with glass doors, ;^3-5-o. 

To picture a wealthy home in New York during the 
reign of George I. we cannot do better than enumerate 
the possessions of William Burnet, Governor of New York 
and Massachusetts, who died in 1729, with a personalty of 
^'4540-4-33/^ . His house contained twelve tables and 
seventy chairs. Some of the furniture was undoubtedly of 
mahogany, though the only wood mentioned is walnut. 
The chairs were walnut frames, red leather, bass bottomed, 
black bass, and " embowed or hollow back with fine bass 
bottoms." One easy-chair covered with silk was valued 
at ;^io. The style of chair known as "Chippendale," 
with traceried splat and bow-shaped back, was thus found 
here in the " twenties." Twenty-four of those belonging 
to the Governor had seats of red leather, and nine of fine 
bass, valued at twenty-four and twenty shillings each re- 
spectively. The tables were large and small oval, black 
walnut, small square and round, plain and japanned tea 
tables, card and backgammon tables. There were two 
valuable eight-day clocks, a fine gilt cabinet and frame, 
a writing-desk and stand, a chest of drawers and small 
dressing-glass, a ** scrutore with glass doors " valued at ;^20, 
three chests and seven trunks. Besides six dozen silver 
knives and forks worth j[y2, there were i 172 oz. of silver 
plate; china and glass (^^i 30-16-0) ; pewter (^f 100-2-6); 
kitchen stuff (^^140-1 5-0); and a variety of expensive beds 
with red and chintz curtains. One bedstead was of iron ; 

a74 





§mk 



Mi. 



If III ■■ift^l 




PQ 

o - 

DC 'S 

< "" 

^ '^ 
s 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and one " mattress Russia leather," one of " Ozenbriggs," 
and two of coarse Holland are mentioned. Some form of 
carpet now covered the floor of the best houses, and tapestry 
still adorned the rooms. The Governor owned ** a line 
piece of needlework representing a rustick, £^zo ; 4 
pieces fine tapestry, £10 \ a large painted canvas square as 
the room, £% ; 2 old checquered canvases to lay under 
a table, ^^'o- 1 0-0 ; 2 four-leaf screens covered with gilt 
leather, j^' I 5 ; i fire screen of tapestry work, jfi-i 0-0 ; 
2 ditto paper screens, ;^i." Besides window curtains, 
cushions for windows occur. The hall was lighted by a 
large lantern with three lights. There were also twelve 
silver candlesticks weighing 171^ oz., two branches for 
three lights, two large glass sconces with glass arms. The 
hearth furnishings included a brass hearth and dogs, a pair 
of steel dogs, tongs, shovels, japanned and plain bellows, 
and ** an iron fender to keep children from the fire.*' 
There were many other household conveniences, among 
which we may note a linen press, a horse for drying 
clothes, a plate heater, a plate rack, an iron cofl^ee mill, 
and a screen to set before meat at the fire. There were 
large quantities of household linen. The rooms were lav- 
ishly adorned with pictures, as well as curtains, cloths, and 
tapestries. Three sets of the genealogy of the House of 
Brunswick recall the Governor's loyalty, and his family's 
rewarded services to that House. A tree of the church 
of Christ, Martin Luther's picture, a lady's picture over 
the door, the Blessed Virgin Mary's picture with Jesus in 
her arms (j£^2), five plans of Boston, and a view of Boston 
harbour are the only subjects mentioned. There were 
" two pictures in lackered frames, ^^5 ; 151 Italian prints, 
j^ 1 5-2-0; 17 masentinto prints in frames, 3 ditto small, 

*7$ 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



3 ditto that are glazed, ^5- 
4-0 ; and 44 prints in black 
frames, ^{'7-1 5-0." The 
possessions of the Governor 
breathe an atmosphere of 
ease and luxury that one 
would scarcely expect to 
find in New York during 
the third decade of the 
eighteenth century. He 
was evidently fond of good 
living, games, sport, exer- 
cise and music. He had 
three coach horses and a 
horse for riding. Five cases 
of foils and a single foil 
show that he was a fencer ; 
and three muskets and a 
cane fishing-rod prove that 
he was a sportsman. " Nine 
gouff clubs, one iron ditto 
and seven dozen balls " 
show that the game was played on Manhattan Island nearly 
two centuries ago. A chess-board, backgammon-table, 
card-table, magic-lantern, harpsichord, clapsichord, double 
courtell, tenor fiddle, large bass violin, two treble violins 
and two brass trumpets testify that music and games were 
played in the Governor's mansion. His cellar was well 
stocked. 

The " embowed chairs " that occur in the above in- 
ventory were of that style that is now generally called 
"Chippendale." The top bar was bow-shaped, and perhaps 

276 




PLATE BACK. CHAIR 

Originally owned by Elbridge Gerry ; now in old 
State House, Boston. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the word embowed also included the cabriole leg. Plate- 
back chairs, examples of which appear on this page, fre- 
quently occur in the inventories. These were chairs with 
solid splats, the outlines of which assumed various forms, 
that of the jar prevailing. An excellent specimen of this 
chair, that belonged to Elbridge Gerry, and is now in the 
old State House, Boston, is shown on page 276. Here 




DUTCH CHAIRS 
Owned by the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mast. 



we have the jar-shaped splat, embowed top-rail, and cabriole 
leg ending in hoof feet. Dutch chairs of kindred model 
appear on page 295 and facing page 286. For decorative 
purposes, this splat was perforated with a heart or some 
geometrical figure, and from this the step from plate to bar 
tracery was a very simple one. This development is ap- 
parent before Chippendale is known to have been at work. 
In the Dublin museum there is a very early example of a 
mahogany arm-chair, attributed to about 171 o, which has 



»77 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

a square back with scrolled top-bar, back-rail of openwork 
with interlacing design, plain arms, square back legs, and 
incurving, tapering front legs ending in hoofs. Another 
mahogany chair in the same collection, made in 1710, has 
the cabriole leg and other characteristics of the new style. 
There are slight curves in the back, and the splat is un- 
pierced. Instead of having a hollowed wooden seat for 
the cushion, the latter is placed on a network of tapes. 
By 1730, the solid splat has entirely gone out of fashion : it 
is now sometimes carved into ribbons formed into loops. 

Sir William Burnet's chairs, shown facing page 274, 
which were bought in 1727, are good examples of the 
" embowed " chair. These chairs, of which there are ten, 
together with the handsome mahogany ball-and-claw foot 
table shown on opposite page, are owned by the Yale Univer- 
sity Library, the gift of Mr. Abram Bishop of New Haven 
in 1829. According to Professor Silliman's account, they 
were imported in 1727 by Sir William Burnet, and passed 
after his death into possession of his successor. Governor 
Belcher. Mr. P. N. Smith bought them at auction, and 
Mr. Bishop obtained them from Mr. Smith. 

We have now reached a date, therefore, at which the 
mahogany furniture, still so greatly prized, might be pro- 
cured by those who cared to pay for it. During the rest 
of our period, the tendency was towards greater lightness 
and grace of line. We will not dwell any further on the 
contents of individual houses, but turn to the newspapers 
of the day and note the goods and novelties that were im- 
ported and those that were made here by local shopkeepers. 

It is plain that English and foreign skilled workmen 
came here in large numbers and found employment. The 
upholsterers alone were a nuj;n.erous body. XJie .kiad oi 

278 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

work upholsterers did during this period, and the goods 
they kept on sale, are fully advertised. 

A handsome upholstered settee of the period, with hall 
and claw feet and carved with the acanthus leaf, is owned 
by Gerald Beekman, Esq., and is shown below. 




SETTEE 
Owned by Gerald Beekman, Em)., New York. 



A bedstead of the period is shown on page 281. It is 
owned by Mr. William Livingston Mynderse, of Sche- 
nectady, N. Y. The old blue and white curtains that 
drape it were originally in the Glen-Sanders house, Scotia, 
N. Y. 

Bed furnishings were sold in bewildering varieties. 
Sometimes the bed and curtains complete are offered 
for sale. John Searson has a yellow silk damask bed, 

279 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

bedstead and sacking bottom, in 1763. We also note 
a mahogany bedstead with silk and worsted damask 
curtains, 1764; and a moreen bed and curtains, 1773. 
Some of the gay materials supplied for bed furnishings 
are as follows : yellow camblet laced, 173 i ; corded dimities, 
1749; rusvsels and flowered damasks, 1750; flowered russels, 
1758 ; blue and green flowered russel damask, and blue cur- 
tain calico, 1759; checked and striped linen for beds and 
windows, 1 760 ; chintz and cotton furniture for beds, 1 765 ; 
flne bordered chintzes elegantly pencilled, and copper-plate 
bed furniture, 1770 ; blue and white, red and white copper- 
plate cottons ; red and white, blue and white, and purple furni- 
ture calicoes, 1771 ; and India, English, and Patna chintzes, 
I 774. In 1 774, Woodward & Kip, near the Fly Market, have 
'* flne laylock and fancy callicoes, red, blue, and purple, fine 
copper plate ditto, laylock lutestring, light figured, fancy, 
shell. Pompadour and French ground fine chintzes. Purple, 
blue and red copper-plate furniture calicoes, ditto furniture 
bindings, and black, blue, brown, Saxon; green, pea-green, 
yellow, crimson, garnet, pink and purple moreens. "•=' 

It will be noticed that plain white curtains do not pre- 
dominate. We also note bed cords, silk and worsted bed 
lace, and silk fringe and snail trimmings of all colours. 
" Jillmills for musketto curtains" are sold in 1750; "col- 
oured lawns and gauzes, plain, spotted and flowered for 
musqueto hangings," 1760; and white and green catgut 
for ditto, 1772. The upholsterers' announcements clearly 
show the work undertaken by them, and the successive pre- 
vailing styles. Paper-hanging was evidently an important 
part of the business, and the walls of the better houses were 
papered before the middle of the century. 

* The last chapter of this work deals further with upholstery. 
280 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Among the advertisements we find : 
" Stained paper for hangings," imported in the snow Nep- 
tune (1750J; an ** assortment of paper hanging" (1750); 




MAHOGANY BEDSTEAD 
Owned by Mr. William Livingston Mynderx, Schenectady. See pjge 279. 

"flowered paper" (1751); "a curious assortment of pa- 
per hangings", brought by the snow Irene (1752); 
*• printed paper for hanging rooms" (1760) ; Roper Daw- 
son offers ** a great variety of paper for hangings, stucco 

181 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

paper for ceilings, etc., gilt leather" (1760) ; James Des- 
brosses has " a large variety of paper hangings," arrived 
from London in the brig Polly ( 1 76 1 ) ; Henry Remsen 
"an assortment of paper for hangings" (1762) ; William 
Wilson, Hanover Square, " a variety of flowered hanging 
paper " imported in the Albany ( 1762) ; " gilt paper hang- 
ings " (1765); and William Bailey imports in the Samson 
from London " a large assortment of paper hangings of 
the newest fashions." Some interesting wall paper of the 
period, the chief features of which are four large pictures 
of the Seasons, is owned by Mr. William Bayard Van Rens- 
selaer in Albany, having been taken from the walls of the 
Van Rensselaer manor house (built in 1765) before it was 
demolished a few years ago. 

In the average house, however, if we may believe a 
contemporary eye-witness, the walls were not papered. 
Kalm, a Swedish botanist, describes New York in 1748 as 
follows: " Most of the houses are built of bricks; and are 
generally strong and neat, and several stories high. Some 
had, according to old architecture, turned the gable-end 
towards the streets ; but the new houses were altered in this 
respect. Many of the houses had a balcony on the roof, 
on which the people used to sit in the evenings in the 
summer season ; and from thence they had a pleasant view 
of a great part of the town, and likewise of part of the 
adjacent water and of the opposite shore. The walls were 
whitewashed within, and I did not anywhere see hangings, 
with which the people in this country seem in general to 
be little acquainted. The walls were quite covered with all 
sorts of drawings and pictures in small frames. On each side 
of the chimnies they usually had a sort of alcove; and the 
wall under the windows was wainscoted, and had benches 

aSa 





MAHOGANY CHAIR 

Owned by Mr. fniliam E. /Vr Planck, Fishkill, 

N. Y. See page 290. 



CARVED OAK ARM CHAIR 
See page 241. 





'"^ 



DUTCH CHAIR 

Otoned hy Mr. Gardner C. Leonard, Albany. 

See page 248. 



CHAIR 

From the Schuyler House on the flats, 
New York. See page 248,. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

placed near it. The alcoves and all the woodwork were 
painted with a bluish grey colour." 

About the middle of the century, we find traces of the 
revived taste for the Gothic style, and the fashion of fitting 
up rooms in various ancient and modern foreign modes. 
Thus in 1758, we have a certain Theophilus Hardenbrook, 
surveyor, announcing that he designs all sorts of buildings, 
pavilions, summer rooms, seats for gardens, etc.; also •* all 
sorts of Rooms after the taste of the Arabian, Chinese, 
Persian, Gothic, Muscovite, Paladian, Roman, V^itruvian 
and Egyptian . . . Green houses for the preservation of 
Herbs with winding Funnels through the walls so as to 
keep them warm. Note : He designs and executes beau- 
tiful Chimney-pieces as any here yet executed. Said Har- 
denbrook has now open'd a school near the New English 
Church where he teaches Architecture from 6 o'clock in 
the Evening till Eight." 

" In the City of New York, through our intercourse 
with Europeans, we follow the London fashions ; though 
by the time we adopt them, they become disused in Eng- 
land. Our affluence, during the late war, introduced a 
degree of luxury in tables, dress, and furniture, with which 
we were before unacquainted. But still we are not so gay 
a people as our neighbours at Boston, and several of the 
Southern colonies. The Dutch counties, in some measure, 
follow the example of New York, but still retain many 
modes peculiar to Hollanders. The City of New York 
consists principally of merchants, shopkeepers, and trades- 
men who sustain the reputation of honest, punctual and 
fair dealers. With respect to riches there is not so great 
an inequality among us as is common in Boston, and some 
other places. Every man of industry and integrity has it 

Z83 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

in his power to live well, and many are the instances of 
persons who came here distressed by their poverty, who 
now enjoy easy and plentiful fortunes." 

The above is a contemporary description of the city in 
1756. The writer is speaking of the old conservative 
element in the community that is always slow to adopt 
new fashions. The richest families, and the members of 
the aristocratic class in England who had their permanent 
or temporary revsidence here, and there were many of these, 
were supplied with the latest modes in furniture as well as 
in costume as quickly here as they were in London. In tes- 
timony of this see page 115. 

James Rivington, Hanover Square, has for sale in 1760: 
" Books for Architects, Builders, Joiners, etc., particularly 
an entire new work entitled Household Furniture for the 
Tear IjdOy hy a society of Upholsterers , Cabinet-Makers ^ etc., 
containing upwards of 1 80 Designs consisting of Tea-Tables, 
Dressing, Card, Writing, Library, and Slab Tables, Chairs, 
Stools, Couches, Trays, Chests, Tea-Kettles, Bureaus, Beds, 
Ornatnental Bed Posts, Cornishes, Brackets, Fire-Screens, Desk 
and Book Cases, Sconces, Chimney -Pieces, Girandoles, Lan- 
thorns, etc., with Scales." 

The above book was for sale here in the same year in 
which it was published in London. It is therefore plain 
that the native cabinet-makers could, and undoubtedly did, 
make the newest styles of furniture here within a very few 
months of their appearance in London. In 1748, Kalm 
says that the native joiners used the black walnut, wild 
cherry, and the curled maple principally. " Of the black 
walnut-trees [yuglans nigra) there is yet a sufficient quan- 
tity. However, careless people take pains enough to 
destroy them, and some peasants even use them as fewel. 

a84 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The wood of the wild cherry-trees [Prunus yirginiana) is 
very good and looks exceedingly well ; it has a yellow 
colour, and the older the furniture is, which is made of it, 
the better it looks. But it is already difficult to get at it, 
for they cut it everywhere and plant it nowhere. The 
curled maple (Acer ruhruni) is a species of the common red 
maple, but likewise very difficult to be got. . . . The wood 
of the sweet gum-tree (Liquidamhar) is merely employed in 
joiner's work, such as tables, and other furniture. But it 
must not be brought near the lire, because it warps. The 
firs and the white cedars {Cupressus thyoides) are likewise 
made use of by the joiners for different sorts of work." 

Cedar was brought from the Bermudas and Barbadoes. 
In describing the latter in 1741, a writer says: 

" The first and fairest tree of the forest is the Cedar ; 
'tis the most useful timber in the island, strong, lasting, 
light and proper for building. There have been great 
quantities of it sent to England for Wainscoting, Stair- 
Cases, Drawers, Chairs and other Household Furniture ; 
but the smell, which is so pleasing to some being ofl^ensive 
to others, added to the Cost, has hindered its coming so 
much in Fashion as otherwise it would." 

In 1745, Sheffield Howard advertised mahogany plank. 
The Success brought in Braziletto wood in 1758 ; William 
Gilliland imported mahogany plank in 1760; and ** a par- 
cel of choice red cedar, fit for either joiners or house car- 
penters," was sold in 1761. In 1770, "A quantity of ma- 
hogany in logs and planks of difi^erent dimensions and brass 
furniture for desks and bookcases of the newest fashion " 
came to public vendue ; and Stanton and Ten Brook on 
Deys Dock ofl^ered pine, cedar and ** mahogany of all sorts 
for joiners' work." 

a8S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

A cargo of 60,000 feet of choice large bay mahogany 
was sold in 1772, and another cargo the following year. 

In addition to choice timber, metal furnishings for 
cabinet ware were readily obtainable. In 1745, Thomas 
Brown, at the Sign of the Cross Daggers in the Smith's 
Fly, sold ironmongery and all materials for cabinet-makers. 
Among other announcements of this class of ware, we find 
bolts and latches for doors; drawer, desk, cabinet arid chest 
locks ; " polished brass handles and locks in sute for writ- 
ing desks, closets and door locks of sundry sorts"; hand- 
some brass locks for parlours ; " all sorts of locks and brass 
handles " ; ** closet, chest, and cupboard locks ; rimmed 
and brass knobed do." ; " brass ring drops " ; desk and tea 
chest furniture ; brass knockers, knobs for street doors, brass 
locks, copper chafing dishes, and brass curtain rings, 1750; 
" bookcase and escrutore setts, brass handles and escutcheons," 
1751 ; "brass and wood casters, curtain rings, brass knobs 
and all Sorts of locks, desk suits," 1752 ; brass chair nails, 
** brass handles and escutcheons of the newest fashion," 
" H H L hinges," chest ditto, table hinges, table catches ; 
** locks in suits for desks " ; " single and double spring, 
chest locks"; a large variety of brass furniture, etc., for 
desks and chests of drawers ; brass handles for desks and 
drawers, and brass hinges and casters, 1758. 

It would seem that it was not unusual for some people 
to supply their own timber, etc., to have made up accord- 
ing to their own fancy. In 1 751, John Tremain, "having 
declined the stage, proposes to follow his business as a cab- 
inet-maker." Among the inducements he offers for cus- 
tom, he says : 

** Those who incline to find their own Stuff, may have 
it work'd up with Despatch, Honesty, and Faithfulness." 

z86 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Cabinet-making, moreover, seems to have been a 
favorite occupation with some amateurs at that date, for we 
hnd "chests of tools for the use of gentlemen who amuse 
themselves in turning and other branches of the mechanic 
art," for sale in 1771 . 

Many of the cabinet-makers of New York carried on 
an importing as well as a manufacturing business. There 
were skilled workmen here who had been trained abroad 
and could produce furniture as good as the best foreign 
article. In 1753, ** Rt)bert Wallace, joyner, living in Bea- 
ver Street, at the Corner of New Street, makes all vsorts of 
Cabinets, Scrutores, Desks and Book cases. Drawers, Ta- 
bles, either square, round, oval, or quadrile, and chairs of 
any fashion." 

Solomon Hays at his store, Beaver Street and Broad 
Street, offers, in 1754, "a choice assortment of India, Ja- 
pan gilded Tea Tables, square Dressing ditto of which 
Sort none were ever before in America ; beautiful sets of 
Tea Boards, answerable to the Tea Tables ; line marble 
Tea Tables with complete sets of cups and saucers in 
Boxes for little Misses." 

" Stephen Dwight, late an apprentice to Henry Hard- 
castle, carver," in 1755 sets up business "between the 
Ferry Stairs and Burling Slip, where he carves all sorts of 
ship and house work ; also tables, chairs, picture and look- 
ing-glass frames, and all kinds of work for cabinet-makers, 
in the best manner and on reasonable terms." 

Ciilbert Ash had a ** Shop-joiner or cabinet-business in 
Wall Street, in 1759; and Charles Shipman comes from 
England and, in 1767, settles near the Old Slip. He is an 
ivory and hard wood turner, " having been an apprentice 
to a Turning-Manufactory at Birmingham." He make? 

187 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

" mahogany waiters and bottle stands, pepper-boxes, patch- 
boxes, washball boxes, soap-boxes, pounce-boxes, glove- 
sticks, etc., etc." 

Flagg and Searle of Broad Street, in 1765, announce 
" japanning and lacquering after the neatest manner." 

In 1762, we tind ** John Brinner, cabinet and chair- 
maker from London at the Sign of the Chair, opposite Flat- 
ten Barrack Hill, in the Broad- Way, New York, where 
every article in the Cabinet, Chair-making, Carving and 
Gilding Business, is enacted on the most reasonable Terms, 
with the Utmost Neatness and Punctuality. He carves all 
Sorts of Architectural, Gothic, and Chinese Chimney-Pieces, 
Glass and Picture Frames, Slab Frames, Girondels, Chan- 
daliers, and all kinds of Mouldings and Frontispieces, etc., 
etc. Desk and Book Cases, Library Book Cases, Writing 
and Reading Tables, Study Tables, China Shelves and Cases, 
Commode and Plain Chest of Drawers, Gothic and Chinese 
chairs ; all sorts of plain or ornamental Chairs, Sofa Beds, 
Sofa Settees, Couch and easy Chairs, Frames, all kinds of 
Field Bedsteads, etc., etc." 

'* N. B. He has brought over from London six Artifi- 
cers, well skilled in the above branches." 

A few months later he announces "a neat mahogany 
desk and a bookcase in the Chinese taste." 

Jane Wilson has "japan'd goods with cream coloured 
grounds, and other colours of the newest taste; The mod-- 
els also are new constructions, some of them only finished 
last May at Birmingham and imported to New York the 
4th inst. in the ship Hope ; consisting of tea trays and 
waiters, tea chests compleated with cannisters, tea kitchen 
and compleat tea tables, ornamented with well painted 
landskips, human figures, fruit and flowers.** 

a88 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




MAHOGANY CHAIRS 
Owned by Mr. William t. Ver Planck, FishkiU, N. Y. See page 290. 

The painted table appears in many of the early inven- 
tories. Those of Dutch and French workmanship, deco- 
rated with flowers and birds and sometimes historical and 
mythological subjects, were quite expensive. An elaborate 
example of this class appears facing page 298. It belongs 
to Miss Katharine Van Rensselaer, at Vlie House, Rens- 
selaer, N. Y. 

Specimens of the more luxurious furniture of the period 
are shown on the frontispiece and facing page 282. This 
beautiful set of Gobelin tapestry, consisting of two large 
sofas, two tabourets and eighteen chairs, was imported for 
the ball-room of Mount Pleasant^ the Beekman home on 
First Avenue and Fifty-first Street, New York. The 
house, which was built in 1763 by James Beekman and 

189 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

remained standing until 1874, was associated with many 
historic characters and events. It was the headquarters of 
General Charles Clinton and Sir William Howe. Andre 
slept here before he left for West Point, and Nathan Hale 
was tried and convicted as a spy in its greenhouse. The 
furniture preserves its original mounts; the sofas and 
tabourets show hunting and pastoral scenes, and each chair 
presents a different illustration from Msop's Fables. 




TWO MAHOGANY CHAIRS FROM THE GANSEVOORT FAMILY, AND A CHAIR 
FROM THE SCHUYLER FAMILY 

Now owned b) Mrs. Abraham Lansing, Albany. 



The handsome chair facing page 286 (top left-hand 
corner) is one of a set of twelve brought to New York 
in 1763 by Judith Crommelin of Amsterdam, who was 
married to Samuel V^erplanck. This couple settled in 
Fishkill, and the chair is now in the Verplanck home, there 
owned by Mr. William E. Verplanck. The chair is hand- 
somely carved, and preserves its original yellow damask. 

The interesting chairs, with Turkey-work seats, repre- 

290 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



sented on page 289, are also owned 
by Mr. William E. Verplanck at Fish- 
kill, New York. 

Two chairs from the Gansevoort 
family appear on page 290, with a 
Schuyler chair. All three specimens 
are owned by Mrs. Abraham Lansing 
ot Albany. Another chair belonging 
to the (iansevoorts, and shown 
on this page, is owned by 
Mrs. Blanche Douw Allen of 
New ^'ork. The top-rail is 
bow-shaped, the splat pierced 
and carved, the seat is rush- 
bottomed, and the two front 
legs end in curious dog- 
shaped claws. 

The chair, on page 292, 
ifi the Schuyler house oppo- 
site '* the Flats " near Al- 
bany, belonged to Stephen Schuvler, and is owned by 
Mr. Stephen Schuyler. 

An early example of a "wing chair," or "saddle- 
check chair," appears on page 293. This belongs to 
Mrs. Harriet Van Rensselaer Ciould of East Orange, New 
Jersey, and is kept in the Van Rensselaer house, C/wrry 
Hill^ Albany. This is one of the old Van RenSvSelaer 
pieces, and is covered with a sort of brown matting, 
much worn. This kind of chair is usually covered 
with chintz, and a deep Hounce, or ruffle, nearly hides the 
feet. 

The corner chair shown on page 294 was the property 

»9« 




CHAIR 
Owned bv Mrs. Blanche Doum Allen, New York. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



of John Stevenson, and descended through his grandson of 
the same name to Mrs. Augustus Walsh, of Albany. 

"Minshiell's Looking Glass Store, 
removed from Smith Street to Hanover 
Square (opposite Mr. Goelet's the sign 
of the Golden Key), has for sale "an 
elegant assortment of looking-glasses 
in oval and square ornamental frames, 
ditto mahogany ; the greatest variety 
of girandoles ever imported to this 
city; brackets for busts 
or lustres, ornaments for 
chimney-pieces as tab- 
lets, friezes, etc. Birds 
and baskets of flowers, 
for the top of book- 
cases or glass frames, gilt 
bordering for rooms by 
the yard. Engravings 
by Strange, Woollet, Vi- 
vares, and other eminent 
masters. A pleasing va- 
riety of mezzotintoes 
well chosen and beauti- 
Also an 
of 
Any Lady or Gentleman that have 
glass in old fashioned frames may have them cut to ovals, 
or put in any pattern that pleases them best. The above 
frames may be finished white, or green and white, purple, o; 
any other colour that suits the furniture of the room, or gil., 
in oil or burnished gold equal to the best imported." ( i yjS') 

292 




OLD OAK CHAIR 

Owned by Stephen Schuyler, now by his descendant, Mr. fuUy Coloured 

Stephen Schuvler, Troy Road, N. Y. . 

elegant assortment 
frames without glass. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




Italian marble ta- 
bles are imported in 
1750; "fashionable 
chairs " are offered by 
Sidney Breese in 1757; 
Samuel Parker imports 
in the Dove " a very 
complete London made 
mahogany buroe and 
bookcase and other fur- 
'liture " ( 1762) ; ma- 
hogany furniture and a 
fine damask bed come 
to public vendue in 
1764; "japanned stands 
of all prices beautifully 

J J -1 »» OL" "wing" or "SADDLE-CHECK" CHAIR 

ornamented and gilt Owncd by Mrs.H. Van Rens«laer GouId,.tCW^ «.//, 

are imported by Duyc- ^"""y- s«pagc29«. 
kinck, 1 764 ; and handsome chairs with damask seats and 
backs are advertised in 1765. Thomas Fogg offers "a 
quantity of worsted furniture," and W. N. Stuyvesant 
auctions "some mahogany chairs," 1765; Nicholas Car- 
mer. Maiden Lane, imports " a neat parcel of mahogany 
chairs and desks and bookcases, tables, etc., and a parcel of 
mahogany plank," 1767; "some choice marble slabs for 
side tables " are ofl^ered cheap by Captain William Stewart, 
on King Street, 1767; "a mahogany fluted double chest 
of drawers, a microscope, a good Wilton carpet, two bed- 
side ditto, and three sets fire furniture " come to public 
vendue in 1768 ; " beautiful mahogany chairs" and "chests 
upon chests" are sold in 1769 ; crimson worsted furniture, 
1 770 ; «* parcel of mahogany desk, desk and bookcase, 

293 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

chest upon chest, dining tables, tea tables, stands, and 
buroes, mahogany cases with knives and forks," 1771. 

The above extracts are ample to show the kind of fur- 
niture that was imported and that was made in New York 
Boston and Philadelphia also produced a lot of cabinet- 
work which occasionally is offered for sale in the papers. 




CORNER CHAIR 
Originally belonging to John Stevenson, now owned by Mrs. Augustus Walsh, Albany. See page 291. 

Garrit Van Home Fishef, at his store in Smith Street, 
** has some neat black walnut Boston made chairs with 
leather seats to dispose of" (1759) ; and Perry Hayes and 
Sherbroke advertise ** Philadelphia made Windsor chairs " 

(1763)- 

Two old chairs from the Van Cortlandt House, Croton- 

on-the-Hudson, are shown on the opposite page. 

We learn that the Hoors of the average house were 

294 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 





TWO CHAIRS 

From the Van CortUndt House, Croton-on-the- Hudson, N. Y. 

sanded until towards the middle of the century when car- 
pets became more general. In 1747, bedside carpets are 
advertised; and, in 1749, bedside and floor carpets. In 
1750, the Neptune brings in flowered carpets. In 1752, the 
Mary has white cotton bed carpets ; the Nebuchadfiezzar^ 
haircloth for floors ; and the Irene, " painted floor cloths 
in the handsomest manner." Then appear successively 
** Rich beautiful Turkey fashion carpets," 1757; " Persian 
and Scotch carpeting and ditto bedsides," 1758; Wilton 
and the best Turkey carpets of all sizes, 1759; stair cloth, 
Scotch carpets and " carpeting for floors, chairs and tables," 
1760. Thus the word carpet is not yet used exclusively 
as a term for a floor covering. Next we have carpeting 
for stairs, 1762; painted floor cloths and entry cloths, 

*95 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

haircloth for entries and staircases, and handsome mo- 
hair carpeting, 1 764. At the same date, also, we have 
•* Persia, Scotch, list, entry. Floor, Bedside, Table, and 
painted," besides ** bordering lists for carpitting." Two 
excellent Turkey carpets, one of them seven yards square, 
are offered for sale in 1765. Wilton and Axminster 
carpets cost from ^3 to j^6o in 1771 ; and in the next 
year there are square and list carpets for beds, and the 
Hero brings some beautiful plush carpeting from Ayr. 

" Brass rods for fixing carpeting on stairs " could be 
had at James Byers, Brass Founder, South Street, in 1 767 ; 
and large brass and iron wire for staircases, 1772. 

The fireplace was a decorative feature of the room all 
through this period. Coal gradually succeeded wood as 
fuel, and grates took the place of andirons ; but coloured 
tiles still made the chimney-piece and hearth gay with 
scriptural, historical, and landscape subjects. The articles 
manufactured here and imported for the decoration and 
service of the hearth were numerous. A few selections 
from this class of goods include the following : 

A marble chimney-piece, 1744; "new fire places," 
made by Robert Grace in Pennsylvania, 1744—5 ; "a par- 
cel of handsome Scripture tiles with the Chapter and some 
plain white ditto," 1748; history and landscape tiles, 1750 ; 
marble hearths, 1751 ; "a parcel of choice iron ash pails 
proper for taking up hot ashes from hearths to let them 
cool in"; green and yellow hearth tiles; white and Script- 
ure galley tiles ; steel hearths with mouldings and stove 
grates from England. " Just imported from Bristol and 
to be sold by Rip Van Dam a large iron hearth plate with 
brass feet and handles," 1752; two handsome marble 
hearths with layers suited to the hearth are offered in 

296 




MARQUETRY CHEST OF DRAWERS AND GL.\SS CASE 
Owned by Mr. John F. L. Pruyn, Nno York. See page 256. 




OVAL PAINTED TABLE 

OiL-neJ hy Miss Katharine Van Rensselaer, Vlie Houses Rensselaer, N. T. 



See page 28g 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

1753 ; John Beekman has some German stoves, iron backs, 
marble chimney fronts and marble tea tables for sale in 
1757; carved and plain chimney backs are imported, 1759; 
ind chimney tiles and stucco ornaments for ceilings and 
chimney-pieces are sold by Bernard Lintot, 1760. "Ger- 
man cast iron stoves round and square, handsome marble 
chimney fronts and hearth stones, hearth and Jam tiles " 
are for sale by Robert Crommclin, 1761 ; "mantel-pieces, 
iron grates for coals. Scripture and landskip chimney tiles, 
Boston do., for oven floors and hearths," 1 764 ; best blue and 
white landscape tiles, common do., and purple best do. ; and 
open work mahogany mantelpieces, 1765. Red and blue 
hearth tiles are sold by Samuel V^crplanck, 1765. James 
Byers, brass founder in South Street, makes ** brass mouldings 
to cover the edges of marble or tiled tire places," 1768; 
" marble hearths very beautifully variegated with difl^erent 
colours" are sold by Philip Livingston at his store, Burnet's 
Quay ; and elegant grates or Bath stoves are imported in 
1768. Samuel Francis, Vauxhall Gardens, ofl^ers ** two 
carved formitif pieces for a fire place " ; and several sets 
of very curious Italian, Derbyshire, and Kilkenny marble 
for fireplaces just imported from London are sold by Walter 
Franklin & Co., 1770. 

From 1 75 1 to 1761, large importations of china are 
constantly advertised, the varieties consisting chiefly of blue 
and white earthenware. Delft, japanned, gilded and flow- 
ered, green ware, Tunbridge and Portabella wares, blue 
and enamelled, " aggott," " tortoise," " pannel'd " and 
Stafi\)rdshire Flint ware. In 1765, James Gilliland adver- 
tises at his Earthen and Glass-ware house ** flower horns, 
wash hand basins without bottles, pine apple and colly 
flower coffee pots, cream coloured tea pots, white tortoise 

*97 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

mugs and jugs, coffee cans, pearl'd flower horns and land- 
skip tortoiseshell coffee pots, black ware, white stone 
tureens, mallon, all with stands." " Agate and mellonea 
ware" are advertised in 1766; "white and enamelled tea 
table setts, white and burnt China bowls from Yz pint to 
3 gallons, quart and pint mugs, jars and beakers, sauce 
boats, spoon boats, children's tea table sets, dining sets 
ranging from 16 to 24 guineas, blue and white enamelled 
china, blue and white landscape china, enamell'd white 
gilt landscape, nankin, brown edged sprig and duck break- 
fast cups and saucers, black and white ribbed and engraved 
sauce boats, sugar dishes, enamelled gilt image and sprig 
damasked tea pots, enamelled coffee cans and saucers, pen- 
cilled china, burnt china, blue and white china, white 
quilted and plain sugar dishes, cream jugs, flower jars, etc.," 
are imported from London and Bristol in 1 767. " A 
parcel of china useful and ornamental. Queen's or yellow 
ware, delf and black earthenware" is offered in 1769. 
An earthenware manufactory is started at Norwich, Conn., 
in 1 77 1, and although domestic productions constantly 
appear, the ships continually bring in china and earthen- 
ware of new patterns and shapes. " Enamelled salt cellars 
pink, blue and green," and "one dozen very handsome 
caudle cups and saucers" are advertised in 1771, and in 
the next year John J. Roosevelt, Maiden Lane, imports 
from England " an elegant assortment of burnt china jars 
and beakers, fruit baskets, butter tubs, sauce boats and 
pickel leaves." George Bell, Bayard Street, has " burnt 
china, quilted china, pencil'd china, blue and white Queen's 
ware, Delph, stone enamell'd black," etc., in 1773; at 
Rhinelander's store in 1 774, there was " a fine assortment of 
china, including blue and white, blue and gold, purple and 

*9« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

gold and enamelled and burnt." " Several very elegant sets 
of Dresden tea table china and ornamental jars and figures 
decorated and enriched in the highest taste " are advertised 
by Henry Wilmot, Hanover Square, in 1775. James 
Byers was riveting broken china in 1769, and Jacob de 
Acosta repaired with cement (see page 301 ). 

Glass ware for the table seems to have been very plen- 
tiful. Wine, beer and water glasses, square and round 
tumblers, cruet stands and cruet frames, and sets of castors 
with silver tops appear from 1744 onward. Glass cream 
jugs are advertised in 1752; "neat flowered wine and 
water glasses, glass salvers, silver top cruit stands, a few 
neat and small enamelled shank wine glasses, flowered, 
scalloped and plain decanters jugs and mugs, salver and 
pyramids, jelly and silly bub glasses, flowered, plain and 
enamelled wine glasses, glasses for silver salts and sweet 
meat, poles with spires and glasses, smelling bottles, scon- 
ces, tulip and flower glasses of the newest pattern, finger- 
bowls and tumblers of all sorts," 1762. Cut glass and 
silver ornamental cruet stands cost from 10 shillings to j^i 5 
each in 1762. Ten years later, " ebony cruet stands, jelly 
glasses, soy cruets, carroflrs, wine and water glasses and 
bottle stands " are for sale by John J. Roosevelt in Maiden 
Lane. Wine servers and " bottle slyders " appear in 1 77 1 — 2 ; 
and " pearl labels for decanters " and " corks with silver 
tops for do." in 1773. American flint glass made at the 
Stiegel Works, Mannheim is advertised in 1770. 

A partial list of articles used in preparing and serving tea 
includes: copper tea-kettles, 1744; pewter tea-pots, 1 745 ; 
"mahogany tea-boards," 1749; tea-chests, "neat ponte- 
pool* japanned waiters," 1 750 ; mahogany tea-chests, brown 

* So calkd from the town in England where it was nude. 
*99 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Polish tea-kettles with lamps, 1751 ; "japann'd and mahog- 
any tea waiters of all sizes," India tea-boards, "tea-chests 
of all sizes mounted with plate and other metals," Dutch 
kettles, lamps, and coffee-pots, 1752 ; "best Holland ket- 
tles with riveted spouts," 1758; sugar cleavers and bells 
for tea tables, brass kettles in nests, very neat chased silver 
tea-pots, sugar pots, chased and plain, milk pots double 
and single, jointed tea-tongs, tea spoons, 1759 ; cannisters, 
brass Indian kettles in nests, mahogany and book tea 
chests, 1 760 ; nests of kettles to hold from thirty gallons 
down to a quart, 1761 ; plated tea-boards and tea-trays, 
1762 ; tin kettles in nests, painted and plain sugar boxes of 
various sizes, japanned cannisters, neat tea chests with can- 
nisters, " mahogany tea-boards, sliders, tea-trays, beautifully 
ornamented japanned tea boards, waiters and kettles hand- 
somely japanned and gilt, Chinese tea tongs, tea chests and 
slyders, the most fashionable octagon and square japann'd, 
hniered and inlaid tea chests," 1764; open work mahog- 
any tea-boards, 1765; " curious japann'd Pontipool ware, 
viz., tea equipage — a fine tea kitchen and waiter, a 
beautiful 24 inch rail tea tray, cannister," 1768; "one 
handsome double bellied plaited tea kitchen and stand," 
1768 ; urns or tea kitchens, silver plated, finely chased and 
plain brown tea kitchens, tea pots gilt and enamelled of the 
finest ware, 1771 ; japan'd tea tables, kitchens, trays, chests, 
cannisters, waiters, bells, 1772; pearl and tortoise shell 
sugar tongs, inlaid mahogany tea chests, tea cannisters 
lined with lead, silver milk urns, japann'd Roman trays, 
1773; "polished Gadrooned and fine openwork silver tea 
tongs, very fashionable," 1774. 

Turning now to ornamental china used for the decora- 
tion of mantel-pieces, as well as for the tops of che«ts of 

300 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

drawers, escritoires and bookcases, we find among the 
importations birds, baskets of flowers and busts ; ** a 
very curious parcel of plaster of Paris Figures," 1757; 
"plaster of Paris ornaments for chimney-pieces," 1758; 
"flower horns," 1758; "some beautiful ornamental 
chimney-china," 1766; "white stone ware, including 
complete tea-table toys for children, with a great collection 
of different kinds of birds, beasts, etc., in stone ware, very 
ornamental for mantle pieces, chests of drawers, etc.," 
1 767 ; " one set of image china," 1 768 ; " a few pieces of 
very elegant ornamental china," 1769. Jacob de Acosta, 
who mends china and glasses with cement, has " all sorts 
of marble or china furniture such as is used in ornament- 
ing chests of drawers or chimney pieces," 1770; Henry 
VVilmot has " the greatest variety of ornamental china, 
consisting of groups, setts of figures, pairs, and jars just 
opened," 1 770 ; and Mr. Nash offers some "superb vases 
for the toilet," 1771. 

Wax-work ornaments appear in 1765 ; glass pyramids 
in 1764; and "glasses to grow flowers," 1775. 

The dressing-tables were furnished with every luxury, 
and shaving boxes and brushes of all sorts are found in 1 756. 
" Neat Morocco tweese cases with silver door, lock and 
key," 1759. Complete shaving equipages, japanned comb 
trays, and India dressing-boxes are imported in 1759; 
complete sets of shaving utensils in shagreen cases, 1 760 ; 
ladies' equipage, with everything complete for a fashion- 
able toilet, 1761 ; "shaving equipages, holding razors, scis- 
sars, penknives, combs, hones, oil bottle, brush and soap 
box with places for paper, pens and ink," 1761 ; straw 
dressing-boxes with private drawers, 1 764 ; and fish skin 
razor cases, 1774. "Very fine travelling cases for ladies 

301 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and gentlemen contain everything to make a journey com- 
fortable, and some of these are adapted for army officers." 
The "seal-skin portmantua " is fashionable towards 1776. 

The desk and escritoire were furnished with many ar- 
ticles familiar to-day : but sand to sprinkle upon and dry the 
ink, and wafers and quill pens have now almost disappeared. 
Hard metal inkstands with candlesticks are advertised in 
1750; large and small pewter standishes in 1759; glass 
ink pots with brass tops, ditto for sand, 1759; brass ink 
pots, 1761 ; "ink equipages with silver plated furniture 
for the nobility, gentry, public officers, etc., and others of 
inferior size and quality " are advertised by James Riving- 
ton in 1771 ; and japann'd, brass, leather and paper ink- 
stands appear in 1774. Neat red and blue morocco letter 
cases with locks (1750); red leather letter cases; beau- 
tiful red and blue morocco letter cases with spring locks ; 
neat shagreen ink horns ; ivory and tortoise-shell mem- 
orandum books (1761); fountain pens; cedar pencils 
(1750); sealing-wax, and quills; vermilion and common 
wafers (1759); ivory paper-cutters (1761); lignum vita3 
rulers ; letter scales ; black lead pencils with steel cases for 
the same; ink-powder (1762); wafers, black and red; 
gilt message cards ; and letter files (1765). Ivory, tortoise- 
shell, shagreen and pear-tree memorandum books are also 
advertised. Ladies' memorandum blocks occur in 1764. 

Clockmakers are numerous, John Bell advertises in 
1734; Aaron Miller, of Elizabethtown, in 1747; and 
Thomas Perry, of London, in Dock Street, and " Moses 
Clements in the Broad-way, New York," in 1749. 

A handsome japanned clock, made by Allsop of Lon- 
don, appears facing this page. It has always been in the 
Bleecker family, and descended from Garrit Van Sant 

30Z 



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JAPANNED CLOCK 

Bf longing to the lilffchfr family, fio*c in the 

house oj Mrs. F. Ten Eyck, Albany. 

See page 302. 



FRISIAN CLOCK 
Owned by the Rev. John van Burk, of Johns- 
ton, N. Y'. See page 244. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Bleecker, of Albany, to one of his daughters. It is now 
in the home of Mrs. J. Ten Eyck, Albany. 

" Clock case cupboards " are brought over by the 
Batchelor^ 1751 ; Samuel Bowne, Burling-Slip, has some 
"japanned and walnut-cased clocks," 1751 ; Dirck Brinck- 
erhoff is at the Sign of the Golden Lock, in Dock Street ; 
** Uriah Hendricks, at his store next door to the Sign of the 
Golden Key in Hanover Square ( 1 756), has imported ** two 
fine repeating eight day clocks, which strike every half hour 
and repeat"; Thomas Perry, watchmaker, from London, 
** in Hanover Square, makes and cleans all sorts of clocks 
and watches." " He will import, if bespoke, good war- 
ranted clocks at >f 14, they paying freight and insurance, 
and clocks without cases for £\oy (1756.) 

George Chester, from London, opens a shop at the 
Sign of the Dial, on the new Dock; and Garden Proctor 
mends and cleans musical, repeating, chimney and plain 
clocks in 1757 ; Abraham Brasher, of Wall Street ( 1757) ; 
Solomon Marache, opposite the Fort ; John Est, at the 
Dial and Time in Broadway ; and Thomas Gordon, from 
London, opposite the Merchants' Coffee House (1759) sell 
various kinds of timepieces. Edward Agar, in Beaver 
Street, brings from London " a very neat table clock which 
repeats the quarters on six bells" (1761); Joseph Clarke 
imports from London some ** exceedingly good eight-day 
clocks in very neat mahogany cases," and two dials, ** one 
in a covered gilt frame large enough for a church or a 
gentleman's house." (1768.) 

In 1 768, John Sebastian Stephany, Chymist, has " for 
sale for cash a new and ingenious Clock Work, just im- 
ported from Germany, and made there by one of the most 
ingenious and celebrated Clock-makers in Germany. It 

303 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

plays nine different selected musical tunes, and every one 
as exact as can be done on the best musical instrument ; 
and changes its music every hour. It is done with i i 
clocks and 22 hammers. It has an ingenious striking work 
for every hour and quarter of an hour ; it repeats 8 Days, 
Hours, and Minutes and shows the Month, and Days of 
the Month." 

" At the Sign of the Clock and Two Watches, oppo- 
site to Mr. Roorback's at the Fly Market is made and re- 
paired at reasonable Rates, Clocks and Watches ; will keep 
in Repair by the Year, Clocks plain or musical ; . . . . 
China is also rivited at the said Shop three different ways 
and ornamented with Birds, Beasts, Fish, Flowers, or 
Pieces of Masonry by a curious and skilful Workman." 
(1769.) 

Isaac Heron (1770), watchmaker, facing the Coffee 
House Bridge, has " a musical clock noble and elegant 
cost in England ^80," and " a neat and extraordinary 
good chamber Repeating Clock." 

Stephen Sands, 1772, William Pearson, jr., and Will- 
iam Kumbel, 1775, were also in this business. The two 
bracket or pedestal clocks of the period represented on 
page 305 are owned by Gen. J. Watts de Peyster of New 
York. The one to the left was long in the Broadway 
home of the Watts family ; the second one, with chimes, 
belonged to the de Peysters and bears the name of Robert 
Henderson, who made clocks at St. Martin's Court, Lon- 
don, in 1772, and at 18 Bridgewater Square in i8oo-'5. 
The names of the tunes are engraved above the dial and 
include the March from Scipio, Sukey Bids Me, and Miss 
Fox's Minuet. 

Music was by no means neglected in New York, and 

304 



THE FURNITURE OP^ OUR FOREFATHERS 



-^■•i 

^ 




CLOCKS 
Owned by Gen. J. Watts dc Pcyrter, New York. See page 304. 

competent teachers were not lacking. In 1750, six very 
fine violins and some German flutes are for sale; in 1757, 
a good English spinet and some flutes. In 1759, a gen- 
tleman has a lot of musical goods imported from Naples 
and London, including two good violins, a girl's six- 
stringed bass viol ; " exceeding good German Flutes for 
three Dollars, each ; likewise others with 2, 3, 4, or 5 
middle Pieces to change the Tones and Voice do. Like- 
wise Bass, viol Strings of all Sizes, and silvered Ones for 
Basses, Violins and Tenors. A great Collection of Wrote 
and Printed Music from Italy and England." 

James Rivington, Hanover Square, has in 1760 " Fid- 
dles with Bows or Fiddle-Sticks, Mutes, Bridges and Screw 

30 s 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Pins, German Flutes, common Flutes, Fifes, Pitch Pipes, 
Hautboy Reeds, Bassoon Reeds, and mouth-pieces for 
French horns. ist, 2d, 3d and 4th Fiddle Strings, very 
excellent; ditto Blue, for Basses;" also a lot of Music 
Books. 

Other instruments on sale include : a " harpsichord 
with three stops," 1758 ; ** a complete set of bagpipes /'4," 
1 760 ; ** a chamber organ, with 5 stops, silvered pipes, case 
9 feet high and 6 feet wide, new bellows, and good in con- 
dition, ^60 New York currency, scarce a quarter of the 
sum which a new organ will cost," 1762 ; violins in cases, 
German flutes, ** speckled screw bows," " a violoncello 
and case" and ** an excellent bassoon with reeds," 1764; 
" two very fine handorgans, one with four barrels and the 
other with two barrels," 1767; ** a new chamber organ 
of six stops and neat gilt front," 1768 ; "a very fine tone 
harpsichord and a forte piano," 1770. John Shimble, 
" organ builder from Philadelphia makes and repairs all 
kinds of organs harpsichords spinnets and pianos," 1772. 

A parlour organ of the period shown on page 307 be- 
longed to Anthony Duane, an officer in the English navy. 
It descended to his son James Duane, first Mayor of New 
York under the new government, and from the latter's 
youngest daughter, Catharine Livingston Duane, to James 
Duane Featherstonhaugh. It is now owned by Mr. 
George W. Featherstonhaugh, Schenectady, N. Y. The 
organ is fifty-two inches high and twenty-six inches wide. 
It is made of mahogany. The wind is supplied by a bel- 
lows worked by a crank. The keys are lifted by wire 
elevations on a revolving barrel. The organ contains five 
barrels, playing ten tunes each. All the tunes are English. 

The card table on page 309 belongs to Miss Anna 

306 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Vandenberg, of Albany. It was owned by the Lush 
family, and is somewhat unusual in having five legs. 
Games were no less popular in New York than in the 
Southern cities and plantations. 




PARLOUR ORGAN 
Owncv by Anthony Duinc, noM by Mr. Ucurgc W. Keathmtonhaugh, Schenectady. See page }o6. 



The ** best playing cards " are advertised among the 
importations of i 749 ; battledores, 1751; " quadrille boxes 
for the fashionable game," 1761; "Henry VIII. and 
Highland playing-cards," 1 76 1 ; "Merry Andrew and 
Highland playing cards" and "Great Mogul playing 

307 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

cards," 1764; backgammon tables and drum battledores 
and shuttlecocks and ** backgammon tables lined to pre- 
vent the odious sound of the boxes," 1 764 ; chess, draft 
and cribbage boards, with men, dice and boxes, 1771 ; 
** quadrille pools," 1772; "paper and japanned quadrille 
pools, and pearl and ivory fish and counters," 1773. 

Children's toys are frequently mentioned in the impor- 
tations : the Charmmg Rachel brings '* all sorts of children's 
toys," 1752 ; "boxes of household furniture for children" 
occur in 1759 ; and "a large quantity of Dutch and Eng- 
lish toys " in 1767. 

The ladies of the period were accomplished in needle- 
work, and that they made various ornaments for their 
homes is evident from advertisements for teaching the 
fashionable decorative arts of the day. One in 1731 is: 

" Martha Gazley, late from Great Britain, now in the 
City of New York, Makes and Teaches the following curi- 
ous Works, viz. Artificial Fruits and Flowers and other 
Wax-Work, Nuns-Work, Philligree and Pencil Work upon 
Muslin, all sorts of Needle-Work and Raising of Paste, as 
also to Paint upon Glass, and Transparent for Sconces, 
with other Works. If any young Gentlewomen, or oth- 
ers, are inclined to learn any or all of the above mentioned 
curious Works, they may be carefully taught and instructed 
in the same by the said Martha Gazley at present at the 
Widdow Butlers, near the Queen's head Tavern, in Will- 
iam Street, not far from Captain Anthony Rutgers." 

In I 76 1, the wife of John Haugan, at the Horse and 
Cart Street, advertises that she " stamps linen China blue 
or deep blue, or any other colour that Gentlemen and La- 
dies fancies. Bed sprays. Women's Gowns." 

In 1769, "Clementina and Jane Fergusson intend re- 

308 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 





MAHOGANY CARD TABLE AND CHAIR 
Owned by Miss Anna Vandenberg, Albany. See page 306. 

moving their school the first of May next to Bayard Street, 
opposite the house of John Livingston, Esq., where they 
will continue to teach reading, writing, plain needlework, 
sampler, crowning, Dresden catgut : shading in silk on 
Holland or camhrick and in silk or worsted on canvas; 
as also all sorts of needlework in use for dress or furni- 
ture." 

In 1773, Mrs. Cole, from London, teaches ladies 
" tamhour-work and embroidery " ; and in the same year 
William and Sarah Long, from London, teach "Tambour 
work in gold, silver, and cotton." 

In 1774, Mrs. Bclton, who has a French and English 
school, teaches ** tapestry, embroidery, catgut, sprigging 
of muslin," etc., etc. 

A specimen of the handiwork of the period is shown 

309 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

on page 311. This is a screen worked in 1 776, and 
owned by Mrs. Edward Rankin at the Van Rensselaer 
house, Cherry Hill, Albany. The standard is mahogany 
with " snake " feet. 

Among the importations, " catgut gauze," ** catgut 
silk " and ** drawn catgut " frequently occur. We also 
find ** cruels sorted in shades," 1752; " ivory shuttles for 
knotting fringe," 1 752 ; ladies ** knitting and work boxes," 
1 794 ; " coarse and fine yellow canvass for work or win- 
dow blinds," 1771 ; and tambour cases and needles, 1774. 

The looking-glass was very important at all periods. 
In 1730, James Foddy from London undertook "to 
alter and amend old looking glasses," and it would ap- 
pear from the constant advertisements that there was a 
great demand for looking-glasses of the newest fashion. 
The large pier glass with its carved frame, a glass over 
the mantel-piece and convex mirrors with sconces on 
either side were common ornaments of the drawing-room. 

** New fashion sconces and looking-glasses" are constantly 
appearing among the importations from 1749 onward. From 
about 1752, they are carved and gilt; "a variety of sconces 
with branches in wallnut frames with gilt edges," are offered 
in 1757 ; pier glasses of all sizes are favourite importations; 
and convex lenses and concave mirrors, 1 764 ; " two carved 
white framed sconce glasses and one mahogany ditto," 
1768; oval sconces with gilt frames, 1773; "looking 
glasses the most fashionable, neat and elegant ever im- 
ported into this city, oval glasses, pier do. and sconces in 
burnish'd gold, glass border'd, mahogany and black walnut 
frames with gilt ornaments of all sizes; likewise some 
elegant gerandoles," 1774, framed mahogany and black 
walnut, square and oval sconces, glasses and girandoles, 

310 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

1775. Handsome dressing- 
glasses are constantly being 
offered for sale; sometimes 
these are gilt, sometimes ja- 
panned, sometimes black wal- 
nut, and frequently they are 
furnished with sconces. 

Lamps and lanterns were 
imported in considerable vari- 
ety : the entries and halls were 
lighted by square and spherical 
lanterns. The standard sizes 
were 18 x 14 inches, 16 x 12, 
lox 14, 9x4,8x4 and 7x4. 
A few of the announcements 
are as follows: tine large lamps 
at twenty shillings apiece, 1752; 
barrel and bell glass lanthorns 
for entries, 1753; g^^ss lamps 
and chamber lamps, 1759; 
horns for lanterns, 1759; 
pocket lanterns, 1761; glass 
lamps for halls, 1 76 1 ; glass, 
tin, and horn lanterns, 1763; 
square and globe lanterns for 
halls and staircases, i 764 ; large 
glass lanterns and chamber 
lamps, 1765; "lamps of the 
newest patterns, very useful for sick persons," 1770; and 
** square glass and globe lanthorns and chamber lamps," 
1771. 

Candlesticks of all kinds were made here as well as 




SCREEN WORKED IN 1 776 

Owned by Mri. EtlwarJ Rankin, Albany. 

See p«ge 310. 



1'« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

imported. Among the kinds in demand we note: brass 
ball iron candlesticks, ** some curious four armed cut glass 
candlesticks ornamented with stars and drops, properly 
called girandoles," 1762; brass snuffer dishes, 1764; ** en- 
amel'd and japan'd candlesticks for toilets and tea-tables " 
and "candle shade slyders" 1765; ** Japanned and Ponti- 
pool table and chamber candlesticks," 1768; "iron and 
japann'd candlesticks, 1773; red, green, gilt, and black 
japanned candlesticks, with snuffers and extinguishers, 
1773 ; candle frames and screens, with japanned and skin 
cases, 1774; and candle screens, 1776. 





THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR ^^if 

FOREiFATHERS 




SIX-LEGGED HIGH CASE OF DRAWERS 

Onvaed by Mr. George Dudley Sejmour, Nenu Havea, Conn. See page j^j. 




THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CKITICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLATES 
By RUSSELL STURGlS 



ILLUSTRATED 



u:~ 






\'.W<\ \ 



X 




GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
19 13 





COPYRIGHT, I9OI, BY 
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & CO. 



OCTOBER, I9OI 



CONTENTS 



Essex County Joiners and Cabine t-Makers 315-322 

Amount of home-made furniture, 315; names of cabinet- 
makers and joiners, 316— 7; contents of shops, 317-320; Moll 
Pitcher's table, 321. 



Sewall Short's Stock .... 

The House of the Seven Gables 
Furniture I.mporied and Made to Order 
Judge Sewali/s Orders .... 
Sir William Pepperell .... 



. 322 
325-328 

• 329 

330-332 
332-334 



Extract from letter, 332; carved oak chairs, 332-3; home of 
Elizabeth Sparhawk, 334. 

Connecticut Furniture .... 334—340 

Old styles, 334-5; changes in chairs, 335; woods used, 336—7; 
styles of chairs, 337-9- 

Rhode Island Furniture .... 340-344 

Estates, 340— I; brass-ware, 341-2; the high and low case of 
drawers, 34^-3- 

Boston Homes (1700-1720) . . . 344-371 

Katharine Eyre, 346; tables and chairs, 347; John Mico, 
350-2 ; the buffet, 352-4 ; stoves and grates, 355; the man- 
telpiece, 356; needlework, 357—8; mirrors and picture- 
frames, 358-61; tea-tables and china, 361-4; black chairs, 
365; case of drawers, 366-8; Japanned ware, 368; china or- 
naments, 368 } bureau, 369 ; chest of drawers, 370. 



CONTENTS 

PACE 

Boston Homes (i 720-1 770) . . . 372-388 

Captain William Taylor, 372-3; Thomas Hancock, 374—7; 
Mrs. Mary Blair, 378-80 ; Peter Faneuil, 380-5; Nathaniel 
Rogers, 387-8. 



Cards and Card-Tables 

M us I C A L In ST R U M E N TS 



. 389 

389-390 



Boston Cabine t-Makers .... 390-400 

Immigrants, 390 ; stocks on hand, 391-4; timbers, 395-7; 
mounts, 399. 





)5^€J^ 



List of Illustrations 



WITH CRITICAL NOTES ON MANY OF 
THE PLATES BV RUSSELL STURGIS 



ALL THS NOTES rUKNISHBD BY MR. tTUKGK 
ARE rOLLUWED BY HIS SIGNATURE. 



Six-Legged High Case of Drawers 



Frontispiece 



Tall-boy in which the chief attraction is the somewhat rich veneer of the drawer fironts. 
The very unusual design of the six legs and the odd straining pieces between them may also 
be noticed. 

The brge flat drawer forming the lowermost part of the upper halPof this tall-boy can 
only be opened by pressure from below, or by taking out one of the other drawers, un- 
doubtedly the large one immediately above it. This is what ladies to-day call the *' slipper 
drawer," but it is another form of " secret drawer," which drawers, indeed, are sel- 
dom much more secret than this one. They serve as nothing more unusually secure 
than merely to balfle ordinary curiosity. Some such tall-boys have a large and shallow 
drawer in the cornice, the mouldings of which pass through the drawer-^nt itself, and 
such drawere are excellent for papere — for a map, a print or two, for anything, in short, 
that is better left flat without being folded. 

A certain well-known professor of Yale College — for he did not live to see and to use 
the title Yale University, however much the thing itself may have existed in his time — 
made for himself a writing table, useful and even comely, by taking apart a tall-boy not 
wholly unlike that shown in the frontispiece and having a panelled and cloth-covered tup 
made to stretch from one to the other of these parts. That incident merely illustrates 
the pooibilit)- and the frequency of such changes in the arrangement of those valuable 
pieces of furniture. In this case the upper part of the supposed tall-boy may have been 
still for use in a nursery while the kiwer part passed as a low-boy in a spare room. R. 
Sturgis. 

Kitchen in the Rooms of the Concord Antiquar- 
ian Society .... facing 

The room itself shows little of its original character except in the girders of the ceiling, the 
opening of the firepbce and the oven, of which the door and the mouth of the ash-pit are 
seen on the left of the fireplace. There are a number of interesting utensils in the room; 
a lantern of pierced sheet metal, like one which is to be seen in the illustration page 351, 
and a leather fire-bucket — both of these hanging firom the girder above ; a good spinning 
wheel at the left hand with more than the usual refinement in the way of moulded and 
turned work, and on the right, a winder for skeins of yam. The rocking-chair is a 
piece uf domestic or at least of village nunufacture, and its heavy and simple make aHFords 
an intercbting contrast to the more delicately finished city made pieces. There are also 
twu very plain settles, but these perhaps uf later date as they are made of sawed and pbin 
boards. Hardly greater refinement of finish marks the case of drawers on the right in which 
an attempt has been made to imitate some of the decorative effects of the mure ebborate low- 
boys uf which there are several illustrated in this Part ; see pages 326, 342 and others. 
Hand-made tools are shown in abundance, hanging along the front of the mantel or set 
upon the shelf; such are the broadaxe of which the handle has been sawed off, and the 
hammer wrought out of thin iron and fitted tu a wooden frame which is seen further to the 
right, as well as the admirable and interesting spring tongs of which there are two pairs, 
the forks for meat, and the bundle of skewers and the steelyard on the extreme left. A 



.vs 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACT 

hand-wrought pick-axe leans against the base of the spinning wheel. There are candle- 
sticks on the mantel-shelf, and one of them has a candle set upon it which b clearly too 
large for it, and this utensil may be thought to be, if not a rush-light holder (and it is 
scarcely long enough for that), then a holder fur the ordinary dipped candle of the house- 
hold, which was generally much more slender than our modem factory-made pieces. 
There is a tin horn — the dinner-horn of the poems and legends — standing on its bell with 
a tag or label hanging to its mouth-piece. A home-made boo^ack reminds us of the days 
when there were worn what are now called long boots, things which vanished from 
the city life in western Europe fifty years ago, which lingered in the eastern cities of 
America until 1870, and which have now "gone West" or to the open country. R. 
Sturgis. 

Two Mahogany Tables. Small Round Table. 

Moll Pitcher's Table . . facing 318 

Oval table with adjustable top ; middle or close of eighteenth century. The veneering of 
the top is the chief decorative effect sought in this table, but the standard and the tripod of 
its base are that which interest the student the most and are to be compared with the simi- 
lar features in other tables on the same plate. The framing of the spreading branches of 
this tripod into the central upright piece is unworkmanlike in that the strain is brought on 
the tenons, if there are any, sidewisc; while the actual stress is generally taken up by the 
friction of the parts assisted by glue. This is, indeed, poor construction but admissible in 
pieces so small that without cost or labor the parts taking the strain can be enlarged pro- 
portionally; and it is this device which has been resorted to in the present case with great 
ingenuity and good taste. The necessity of making the spreading pieces very wide at their 
points of junction with the standard has been the excuse for very graceful combinations of 
curvature. 

Table in all respects similar to the above except that it is somewhat more elaborate, 
having a moulded edge and more finely-worked standard. What was said about the con- 
struction of the above applies in all respects to this. The reader may note very slight dif- 
ferences of design in the profiling and champfering of the under side of these two tables — 
the points of junction between the spreading feet and the standard in the following offers a 
third treatment of the same detail. 

Table like those above, but with the top of solid woodwork with the whole surface 
lowered so as to leave a permanent moulding worked out of the solid around the edge and 
having a tripod base carved with some elaboration. The fency for a rim around the edge 
of a table was very strong in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and lasted a long 
time. The absence of the device in the nineteenth century can hardly be explained except 
by the rapid abandonment of working in the solid wood. Every cabinet-maker would per- 
ceive the feebleness of a pbnted molding carried around curves — such a thing would hardly 
meet the requirements of even the most reckless workmen. Perhaps the general demand 
for tablecloths of decorative intent may have had to do with the abandonment of this very 
useful feature. 

The carving is of the formal sort and adds nothing to our already gained knowledge of 
such work. 

What is noticeable, however, is the slight differences which, in these three tripod 
standards, give variety of design. It b in this way that all the fine designing of thb world, 
at least as applied to the simple objects of daily life, has been achieved. The artist is 
satisfied to take a well-known type and then to treat it, in detail, according to his own 
lights. 

Round table like in most respects to that on page 379 and shown firom another point of 
view, that b, with the hinged joints of the leaves plainly visible and the resulting clumsy 
look of the four legs fully revealed. A table seen in this way b a dblocated-looking 
thing and requires its concealing cloth. R. Sturgb. 

Leather Chairs and Bellows . . . -318 

These are interesting examples of native workmanship of the early eighteenth century, 
having been made by the Rev. Theophilus Pickering in 1 724. This model had already 
been in use abroad for many years. It occurs in pictures by contemporary artbts. E. S. 

Old Green Painted and Rush-Bottom Chair .321 

This b a somewhat unusual variety of the four-back chair. It was probably intended for 
an invalid. £. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Gilt Mirror and Mahogany Dressing-Table, 

FACING 319 

Dressing-Table with Drawers, and Japanned 

Dressing-Glass . . . facing 326 

Low-boy of a little more variety of design than is shown on page 364. The original 
scheme probably included the further adornment in the shape of two turned pendants of 
some kind prajecdng downward, one on each side of the middle drawer ( see page 343 ) ■ In 
this piece, as in that on page 367, the good ancient custom of drawers with fronts pro- 
jecting beyond and lapping over the divisions between the drawer-spaces is maintained. 
The handles are apparently original, and are of somewhat unusual merit ; they are at least 
more massive than is custonury. 

The dressing-glass, with its standard and drawers to hold toilet articles, has been bcquered 
in partial imitation of Japanese work, and this fact would seem to connect it with the Neth- 
erbnds — it can hardly be an English piece. It appears that the basement or lowermost 
member of thb piece b inlaid, and if this is so the piece is almost certainly Dutch. R. 
Sturgis. 

Mahogany Field-Bed ...... 327 

A good four-poster bedstead of about 1810. It b assumed that they will never come in 
again, the four-post bedsteads, because the houses of the future will be warmed and closed, 
and the curtains will not be asked fur ; and yet one who loves fresh air has an even 
more lively current from hb open windows the warmer hb room b with the heat of a fire. 
What then do we of the twentieth century put between our sleeping-place and the open 
«rindows * A folding screen, usually Japanese because that b cheaper, or of stamped and 
coloured leather, or even of highly-wrought cabinet work with paintings in Vemb Martin 
if we are millionaires. Is it now certain that we have done wisely ? Is there not some- 
thing to be said for the bed-curtains ? We are not obliged to draw them all four and shut 
ourselves up as our ancestors did in a nearly air-tight box with only 1 80 cubic feet of air for 
perhaps two pair of lungs. 

The four high poets might be accommodated to the much lower frame of the modem 
bedstead, with its broad raib intended to contain and conceal the thick spring mattress of 
the day. The dilferentianon brought about by thb total change in the proportions of your 
post would be an attractive thing to work over and to work out. Four such posts carry- 
ing four raib with a head-board above one of them might then have a tester of any, even 
the most magnificent textile ^bric, or of embossed and gilded leather, and the curtain 
might hang on one side, or on one side and the foot — for a greater or a less part of the 
space turned toward the draft of outer air. Enough said- —let the next family taking new 
quarters, if those quarters are not too utterly inadequate as to space, consider the questioa 
whether a four-post bedstead would not be a glorious revival in the form suggested above. 

The dimity valance of the tester b delightful: and still more attractive would be the 
counterpane, if we could make out the needlework which adorns it. R. Sturgb. 

Mahogany Low Case of Drawers and Mahog- 
any Looking-Glass . . . . -331 

A low-boy of considerable elegance elaborately carved on the legs and in the shell-pattern 
recess in the middle, and with unusually massive brass handles. The peculiar bulging front 
of the drawers will be found repeated in the tall-boys of the time and in such desks and 
bookcases as on pages facing 340 and 374. Thb epoch b about 1750. At that time 
there had already appeared in France the reaction against the somewhat extravagant shap- 
ing of the parts, in architecture and in furniture; a reaction which ended in what we 
know as the Style Louii Seize, but it took time for such influences to cross the channel 
and a still longer time for them to pass the ocean from Bristol or Plymouth to Massachu- 
setts Bay. 

The very large and elaborate tall-boy, which b partly seen in thb photograph, b evi- 
dently a piece of very great interest. R. Sturgis. 

Carved Oak. Chairs ...... 333 

Two chairs canred ia solid oak and probably of the clodng years of the seventeenth cco- 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

TACt 

txiry. Their historical record does not seem to be traceable from so early a period, but 
they have all the marks of English work of the time of James II. The cane backs are un- 
doubtedly contemporaneous and are not the least precious part of this most interesting brace 
of chairs; the leather-covered seats are, of course, recent. R. Sturgis. 

Crown-back Chair ...... 337 

One chair, thought to be Dutch and probably of about 1715. The heavier bandy-legged 
form is generally associated with the Netherlands; the most interesting stretching-pieces 
are, however, the attractive feature in the chair now under consideration; it is very unusual 
to see so bold a treatment of that important part of the fi-ame. The student of such things 
should note carefully the singular independence of the workman who has put his transverse 
piece as hr forward as he could without incommoding the sitter, whose heels would strike 
them if they were further advanced. This bit of designing has carried with it a singular 
lack of ordinary cheap symmetry; and the pieces are all the better for that. R. Sturgis. 

Low Case of Drawers or Dressing-Table (Dark 

Cherry) ....... 339 

Mahogany Desk .... facing 327 

A vniting-desk similar in its distribution to that &cing page 376, but far more elaborate. 
This is, indeed, one of the best designed pieces of the middle of the eighteenth century 
that one will be apt to see, and it is, fortunately, in perfect order. It is stated to be of 
mahogany, and if entirely made of that wood is a rare specimen. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Table and Chair . . . , 341 

Table with dropping leaves which, when open, are supported by two of the four legs. Ta- 
bles facing 318 and on page 379 will be found to offer alternative forms of the same gen- 
eral plan. The people of the eighteenth century, less harassed than their successors by 
carpets covering the whole floor or by rugs always in the way, found little difficulty in 
revolving the whole of one-quarter part, leg and all, of their table frame. It was curious 
to see how with the appearance of carpeting in common use to cover the previously naked 
floors this strenuous and satisfactory plan was abandoned for the feeble bracket no deeper 
than the top rail of the frame and supported by inadequate hinges. R. Sturgis. 

Low Case of Drawers ..... 343 

A low-boy to be compared with those facing page 326 and on page 367, and equally with 
the first of those showing some evidence of having served as part of a tall-boy. It is not 
asserted, however, that such pieces were never or even very seldom made separately. 
The records seem to ^il us, for the gossiping chat about such things which is common in 
our good old ^milies has seldom any basis beyond the narrator's own childish experience. 
It has sometimes seemed possible that pieces of furniture made for a special household would 
have the upper members of the tall-boys adjustable to one or more table-like lower parts. 

The use of the carved shell for the front of the lower drawer marks a distinct step for- 
ward in attempted adornment. The middle recess shown in those facing page 326, and on 
pages 331 and 343, is a far-away reminiscence of the knee-place in a writing-table, and 
has no practical excuse in the pieces of furniture we are considering beyond the possible 
convenience of the housewife who sits down to look at the contents of the lower drawers ; 
while, even for this purpose, the distance between the two pendants a insufficient. 

This piece is of unusually good proportion — an attractive piece of furniture. R. Sturgis. 

Leather Travelling Trunk . . facing 344 

Chest of drawers covered with leather and adorned with broad-headed nails. Such pieces 
are generally considered travelling chests, but this is extremely doubtful, as there is never 
found in connection with them any provision for easy transport. The Japanese cabinets 
identified as intended for the traveling equipage of a Daimio under the old regime were 
fitted with the most ingenious and practically useful appliances in delicate wrought iron for 
the insertion of a long bearing-pole, by means of which it could be carried as a palket is 
carried, on the shoulders of men. The modem trunk with drawers is never too heavy to 
be tossed upon the shoulders of the stout porter, nor too bulky for the baggage-car or the 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FAOB 

fenrard deck of a itnmboat. The present piece, however, if it b as it appears, three feet 
high, four fieet four inche* long and eighteen inches <ieep, would be a moat formidable chat- 
tel for the p*ck-hoise or even the horse-litter or even the carrier's van. 

Reasons are given in previous notes to illustrations for supponng that this decoration 
by means of leather ( which might be bright-colored and of a glossy sur£ice, and with brass 
nails) was a fiivourite alternative for veneer and vamish and for pohrchromy. In &ct, 
it was in a sense a revival or survival of that polychromatic painting which we have found to 
exist not infiwjuently in the earlier years of the seventeenth century. These considerations, 
taken in connection with the extremely elaborate pierced metal-woric scutcheons and the 
fantastical design produced by the nail-heads, seem to give to the leather covering decorative 
rather than a utilitarian purpose. The heavy handles at the end arc evidently a nine- 
teenth-century addition. R. Stutfis. 

Part of a Six-Lecjged High Case of Drawers . 345 
Rush-Bottom Chair ...... 348 

The chief interest in this chair lies in the fiict that it manifestly belongs to the transitional 
period between the seventeenth-century and eighteenth-century styles. It has an odd com- 
bination of turned legs and rail together with the feet that so often appear on the carved- 
oak cane chain, while the pierced splat and bowed top-bar belong to the new 
Khool. E. S. 

Hall in the Warner House . . . -35' 

Hall of a house at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in which are seen two most interesting 
half-round tables of a type not often seen even in fine collections of eighteenth-century fur- 
niture. The lantern of pierced thin metal with added ornaments probably soldered to the 
surface; and with a movable bottom-piece which pulls out and down enabling the light to 
be cared for without dbturbing the lantern itself — thb is even more interesting because so 
nearly unique. People fifty years old will sometimes remember the pierced tin lanterns of 
their childhood by which the farmer lighted himself in the stable, the light shining through 
perforations, small and not clean cut, having indeed the partly separated pieces of dn turned 
inward, thus preventing the wind, even of a sharp storm, from blowing out the candle. Ex- 
quisite Japanese pieces of the same device on the same plan are procurable, but the idea is 
ahrays the same, that as glass n dear, or if not dear is easily breakable, the solid metal ittelf 
Mbontebf pierced ajeur is the best substance for a working bntem. 

The mysterious effect in the right-hand lower comer is produced by the plain top nf a 
heavy table which conceals the lower part of the door and even of the pilaster on the right 
side of the wooden archway. R. Sturgis. 

"BeAUFAIT" ..... FACING 345 

A comer cupboard like that on page 354 and the larger one page 363. It b not a piece 
of furniture, but a part of the decorative interior fitting of a sitting-room or dining-room ; 
a niche, and iinbhed as a niche with a semi-dome carved into a Kalloped shell for its roof, 
aitd shelves following the curve of the back. R. Sturgb. 

"Boufet" from the Barton Homestead, Wor- 
cester ....... 354 

Thb piece, like the last named, b architecturally a niche having for plan a quarter circle 
or thereabout, and for its roof a shell-carved semi-dome. R. Sturgb. 

Kitchen in the Rooms of the Concord Antiquar- 
ian Society . . . .* facing 354 

Thb pbte showrs that side of the Concord kitchen which b opposite the fireplace shown 
in page 31$. There are admirable coppers on the uppermost shelf of the dresser and long 
rows of pewter plates below as well as tin coffee-pots of the simplest village nunu^ture, 
and movable coffee-mill*. There is a salt and spice-box for the bread-maker and for the 
cook generally hung between the dresser and the door-piece. That which is most attrac- 
tive in the photograph b, however, the uble set with its array of wooden plates and 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FAGB 

wooden dish, wooden spoons and what is probably a pewter tankard. These wooden plates 
are not trenchers in the strict sense of the word. The old English trencher was entirely 
flat with no standing rim at all or a rim a quarter of an inch wide and rising an eighth of 
an inch above the perfectly flat uniform surface. Those on this table seem to be an at- 
tempt to hew and turn, out of solid wood, plates which should resemble the pewter plates of 
the earlier time, or the " Delft " plates of the eighteenth century. The table itself is an 
interesting one with a tripod and standard of very good form and design, which may be 
compared with those shown at page 318. R. Sturgis. 

Bedroo.m in Hancock-Clarke House facing 355 

The excellent bedstead shown in this room may be compared with the one illustrated on page 
327. The valance in this case b very elaborate ; probably of silk fitted with a broad pas- 
sementerie. A comparison of the bedposts with their turning and carving as seen in the 
four examples, page 327, page 372, and page 383, and the present one affords an almost 
adequate study of the elaborate fiimiture of the years between 1780 and 18 10. In the 
fireplace of this room there are some very interesting andirons — for this, rather than fire- 
dogs, was what our New England ancestors called these utensils. R. Sturgis. 

Two Clocks ..... facing 360 

The tall clock b a beautiful example of the ornate japanned work of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. The other is a specimen of the plain native work made for the poorer classes. It 
was made in 1767 by Richard Manning of Ipswich. E. S. 

Mahogany and Gilt Mirror .... 360 

Thi' is one of a pair of mirrors of medium size. It is richly carved with drapery and 
floral ibrms and the gilding produces a very rich effect. E. S. 

Buffet ........ 363 

Comer cupboard: but not in the sense of a piece of furniture, for this is a piece of the in- 
terior fittings of an old house with just such " trim " as the neighboring door-pieces would 
have displayed. It is, therefore, hardly to be judged as a separate design. It once formed 
part of an interesting room with fitting corresponding semi-architectural members in all its 
parts. See the illustrations on page 354 and facing page 352. R. Sturgis. 

Rush-Bottom Corner Chair .... 364 

This comer chair is early, probably seventeenth century, and a most interesting piece of 
tuming, the work evidently of a man who cared for his details and their proportions. The 
only vagary that he has allowed to creep in is seen in the monstrous moldings on the cross- 
bars below the seat; and these are so discrepant that one ventures to believe them taken 
from another piece. R. Sturgis. 

Dressing-Table ...... 366 

Carved and Gilt Looking-Glass and a Dressing- 
Table ....... 367 

Low-boy or, more probably, lower part of a tall-boy, with a table-top of more recent date 
applied to it. The grounds for this suggestion are in the apparent lack of an adequate fin- 
ish and of sufficient weight of wood above the uppermost drawers. If this piece be com- 
pared with the more highly finished piece shown facing page 326 the difference is at once 
evident, for the latter has all the appearance of having been planned as it is shown in the 
photograph. The drop-handles of this piece and the scutcheons are all, undoubtedly, of 
the original epoch, but they are not of special interest in design or workmanship. 

The mirror hanging on the wall above is not of the same epoch. The frame would seem 
to be of about I 825. The curious discs below it are nothing but the ends of the metal 
pins secured to an iron band as seen, and used to support the frame. R. Sturgis. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

TAOE 

Mahogany Dumbwaiter and Square Table 

FACING 361 

The tripods and standards ofthne two pieces are similar in design, though apparently nut 
made to match as if forming part of a tingle set. The«e tripod feet should be compared 
with those illustrated in the plate opposite page 318. The term dumbwaiter is the only 
one which we seem to have in the language of decorative art for such pieces as this ; 
although the same term applies to the much lower and broader or longer piece with casters, 
which can be run into any part of the room, set beside the hostess or the host, or used as 
a carving table ; and also applied to the modern lift when utilized for the purposes of the 
dining-room and serving-room. The present piece is rather one for the display of glass or 
silver intended for use at the dinner then in progress and therefore less a dumb waiter in 
the proper sense than an adjunct of the buffet or sideboard. R. Sturgis. 

Governor John VVentworth's Desk and Bookcase 369 

This piece is to be compred with the one shown in the illustration opposite page 374. 
The rtat paneb of the doors here are more likely to have been a prt of the original design 
than the raised panels of that last named piece, but in either case the front might be filled 
with glass or with solid wood panelling without other change in the design. The owner 
of such a piece would sometimes line the gbss with curtains to hide the interior ; thin 
green silk was the orthodox material for this purpose, and there are many examples still in 
> existence. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Liquor-Case . . . facing 370 

Liquor case with eight square bottles elaborately engraved by the wheel and with cut-glass 
stoppers. The middle of the case is occupied by a pile of tumblers. It b a pity that we 
have not one of these decanters separate that the decoration of its body might be visible. R. 
Sturgis. 

Ezra Ripley's Writing-Chair . . facing 370 

A Windsor chair fitted with reading-stand and arranged especially for a near-sighted man 
or for one who, being very tall, desired not to bend over his work. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Chest-upon-Chest of Drawers . -27^ 

An admirable tall-boy to which the name given in the title especuUy applies. That name 
nuy be thought to be a free translation of the French baAut i Jtux corps. The piece is 
indeed two chests of drawers, or, as we should say to-day, bureaus, set one upon the other. 
The decoration by means of swelling and receding rounds of the whole front, drawers, 
divisions, base, surbase and all, is a refined example of the same system of adornment 
which is leas successfully carried out in the illustration opposite page 374. The brass 
handles and Kutcheons seem to be original ; the whole piece b of unusual richness and im- 
portance. R. Sturgb. 

Mahogany Bedstead .... facing 371 

Four-post bedstead with permanent hangings such as served as bmbrequins, in a sense, cov- 
ering the edges of the thinner curtains which could be drawn to and away and preventing 
the entrance of draughts at the comers. The hangings in question seem to be Dutch 
material of about 1 740. It b very unusual to see the bedposts terminating below with 
copies of the handy legs of tables with claw feet and balb. It b probable that the whole 
piece b Dutch, and of a date not far removed from that above mentioned. 

There b hanging on the back of the interesting chair on the right a great caleche of a 
kind somewhat ditferent from the one seen facing page if,^. Un the left b what must 
be a most interesting chest of drawers with secretary. There b a good rag-carpet rug 
at the foot of the bed. R. Sturgb. 

Mahogany Secretary and Bookcase . facing 374 

Chest of drawers Mrith writing-desk and bookcase. An unusually elaborate piece of furni- 
ture showing all the curious vagaries of design which mark the middle of the eighteenth 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACE 

century in England and the Netherlands. The device of modifying the otherwise fiat linont 
of a pile of drawers so that it shall have projections and recesses like the front of an archi- 
tectural pavilion is one which occurs to a designer in great need of a novelty. The natu- 
ral work of the joiner who is trying to make useful fiimiture does not lead him into such 
devices : they are the resource of cabinet-makers trying to stimulate reluctant purchasers of 
furniture by the prospect of something altogether unexampled. Another step is taken 
when, as in the present case, the two projections and the recess are terminated at the top 
with convexly and concavely rounded members which replace the older and more obvious 
plan of carrying these modulations through the shelf or table-top which terminates the pile 
of drawers. In the present case still another step iias been taken, and the swellings and 
sinkings, though not condnuous, are taken up again and repeated, curve by curve, in the 
sloping front of the desk — that hinged flap which, when opened, forms the wridng-shelf. 

As to the cupboard or bookcase above, it is more than likely that the original filling of 
the doors was glass with light sash bars. So the finish to this upper part would be rich and 
well imagined for a piece of that not very tasteful epoch. R. Sturgis. 

James Bowdoin's Desk . . . facing 375 

Chest of drawers with writing-desk attachment, a characteristic specimen of a well-known 
type. Such a piece, — called secretary, scrutoir, and by various other names, — is the obvi- 
ous result of the slight literary needs of a farmer or citizen whose house space was more- 
over limited, hardly allowing him to use three feet by four feet of floor-room for a writing- 
table which would not be used every day. The feet that these pieces were nearly always 
of what seems to us now an impossible height, from the floor to the writing-shelf, makes 
this explanation the more obvious. What kind of high stoob the original owner sat upon, 
or whether he stood at his letter-writing, as he might well have stood while entering items 
in his expense-book, family history has not made clear. We have such pieces nowadays 
in our homes, and reduce them to submission to modem requirements by taking ofF the 
high feet; though even then they demand a library chair of sometimes unusual height. 
R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Sideboard ...... 377 

Table with Falling Leaves .... 379 

A round table planned and built like the one on page 341. In each of these tables the 
extremely graceful and restrained curves of the legs are worthy of notice. Even the most 
ardent advocate of realism in furniture, of an insistence upon the grain of the wood as be- 
ing its essential strength, will be satisfied v,ith the legs of 341, and if he were to dispute 
those of 379 as being a little too much carved away and leaving a part of the grain in a 
feeble exposure, a confrontation of his criticism with the table itself would probably con- 
vince him that iron-hard wood and its close, almost homogeneous structure, would make 
such comment uncalled for. 

It cannot be thought, however, that the resulting form was graceful in these strong and 
convenient tables of the eighteenth century. If one looked at them from a distant part 
of the room, especially if seated at the time, he would see too much of the machinery and 
not enough of the design of the piece of furniture. In fact, the design was almost wholly 
conceived with respect to the closed table standing against the wall. Then it was dignified 
and seemly enough, and we must imagine these tables as opened out only when the im- 
mediate demands of service had to be complied with; and as being then very commonly 
covered with white cloths. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Bedstead WITH Gilt Ornaments . 383 

This, the fourth high post bedstead given in this Part u the richest of all, not merely be- 
cause of the gilded appliques on the comers of the tester, the basket of doves in the middle of 
the firont or foot side and the painting which is carried along each side of the same tester, not 
even these with the addition of the gilded caps which cover the bed screws and show below, 
but because of the very elaborate and also judicious and well-combined reeding, moulding 
and carving of the wooden posts themselves. It is noticeable that only the posts of the 
foot are invested with any decoration at all, those of the head being perfectly plain square 
tapering shafb. This is one of the handsomest as well as one of the richest four-post bed- 
steads to be found. The possibility that the painted friezes are not of exactly the same 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGI 

epoch M the carved wood mutt be kepr in mind, but does not injure the effect of the piece. 
In this room there ii a mott interesting washttand of a date earlier than that of the bed- 
stead ; compare pieces shown in Part III. E(]uaUy early is the high-back chair teen 
against the door at the right, while the chair with the lower back and the Kulprured panel 
is of approximately the ume date as the bedstead or a little earlier. There u a good mantel 
ckick in the room, a piece when of this merit and of this style, nnr than even the tall 
ckxkt buik for ttairway or kitchen. R. Sturgit. 

Mahogany Case of Drawers . facing 384 

Mahogany Card Table . . . facing 384 

Thii a a tolid and handsome table. It will be noticed that it hat five legs, one of which 
puDt out to tupport the flap. Thit it evidently ooC a very unutual feature since an identi- 
cal tpecimen appears on page 309. E. S. 

Chair used by John Adams .... 385 

This '» taid to have been uted by John Adams and is, therefore, interesting at thowing how 
long the old Athiont lurvived in tome of the New England homet. The model, of course, 
belonp to the teventeenth century and has already been fully diKutsed. Mr. Adamt was 
a pronounced enemy to fashion and luxury. £. S. 

Harpsichord ..... facing 385 

Harpsichord or spinet. It is urged elsewhere that great opportunities teemed offi»ed the 
designer of such pieces, those opportunities be'mg all lost when the much more ponderous 
piano came in with its generally four-square case and heavy legs. It is still the ideal way 
of designing a piano to treat its box — that which containt the heavy string-board and which 
it opened up by the key-board — to treat that by itself and to set it upon a supporting frame 
of corresponding design indeed, but not lost in the one general conception. It makes a 
practised designer envious to tee what opportunities for nuking a pretty and delicate piece 
of fiimiturc were held by the makeis of the eighteenth century clavichords. R. Sturgis. 

Six-Legged High Case of Drawers . facing 390 

A tall-boy of design not unlike that shown in the frontispiece, with the peculiarity that the 
vertical sides are nearly continuous, as indeed are those of that on page 397. A far more 
general custom is tvhave the upper part much narrower and less deep than the table-like 
lower ntember and this distribution is seen in the frontispiece. The use o( very rich 
veneer is so unustul in these pieces that one is tempted to believe it an addition of later times, 
at least in that on page 390, and this might even be held as probable were the drawer fironts 
only so adorned. The finishing of the lower part around and beyond the door fronts makes 
the above-mentioned theory less tenable. The straining-piece parted in the middle perhaps 
to allow of the pushing into the space within of a jar or two — Chinese or Delft covered 
vases, is also posdUy a recent change. The reader will notice in the frontispiece the curi- 
ous way in which the straining-piece b bowed in the middle, and it is probable that a 
similar arrangement existed in the one we are now considering. R. Sturgk. 

Corner Chair ...... 393 

This chair b painted white, and has a woven mat bottom. It b a plain piece, of native 
manuficture. It should be compared with another comer chair on page 364, of very 
much earlier style. E. S. 

Settee from the Brattle Street Church, 

Boston . 394 

The fret-work in the back b indicative of the Chippendale Khool, about the middle of the 
century. The heavy and ungraceful top curved hu, however, b scarcely one of which 
Chippendale would have approved. E. S. 

Cherry Chest of Drawers .... 395 

In thb piece may be teen the development of the old-fathioned cheat of draweti which led 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



directly to the more recent '* bureau." The sensible plan is adopted of putting the bottonn 
drawer high enough above the floor to be accessible without too painful stooping, while the 
top drawers may be thought to be just as high as the owner's chin, so that she could look 
into them without effort. The large square raised surface with the radiating and waving 
flutes may be another drawer or it may be the door to a square compartment with little 
shelves. Furniture made during the last quarter of the nineteenth century for private per- 
sons who gave the order direct to their architect or decorator has also been made on this 
plan, and indeed there can be no better contrivance, as a piece as high as this takes up no 
more room on the floor than a bureau of three shallow drawers. The requirement will 
then exist, however, of a separate dressing table with mirror, but this is itself an advan- 
tage, as in this way the mirror may be brought much nearer to the floor. R. Sturgis. 

Corner Chair owned by Daniel Bliss (1756) 
AND Two Chairs made by Joseph Hos- 
mer (Cabinet-makers) . . . . 

AU three of these are of native manufacture. The three turned legs of the comer chair 
are unusually quaint in design. This chair is said to have been in existence in 1756. The 
other two chairs also belong to the Chippendale period, and show designs that frequently 
occur. E. S. 

Maple Chest-upon-Chest of Drawers 

Tall-boy of very elaborate design and make, a piece which was expensive in its time and to 
which more thought was given than is usual with pieces of such well-known type — pieces 
in which tradition counted for almost everything and novelty of design had but a small 
part to play. R. Sturgis. 



396 



397 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part V 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

PART V. 

New England from 1700 to 1770 

IMPORTED AND HOME-MADE PIECES OF THE 
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

T may be confidently asserted that the amount 
of wooden furniture imported into New 
England during the eighteenth century 
formed a very small proportion of what was 
used there. English wares, including hard- 
ware and upholsterers' goods came in on 
every ship and were duly advertised in the local papers, but 
on examining the Salem papers prior to the Revolution we 
scarcely ever come across an announcement of wooden fur- 
niture brought in by the latest arrivals. The fact is that 
New England was not only self-supporting in the province 
of wooden ware, but was able to export a considerable 
quantity of that class of goods to other colonies. Her join- 
ers and cabinet-makers were numerous and expert, and con- 
sequently New England furniture found a ready sale in the 

3«S 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

South. Edward Drinker, Jr., went from Philadelphia to 
Boston before 1700 to learn the craft of cabinet-making. 
Enterprising workmen from Boston and other towns some- 
times transferred their energies to other fields where com- 
petition was not so keen. One of those who went to New 
York has already been cited, and in the South Carolina Ga- 
zettCy November 2, 1734, we find an advertisement by 
another : 

" This is to give notice that Charles Warham, Joiner, 
late from Boston, N. England ; maketh all sorts of Tables, 
Chests, Chest of Drawers, Desks, Book-cases, &c. Also 
coffins of the newest fashion, never as yet made in Charles- 
town." 

Some idea of the number of men engaged in this branch 
of industry in New England may be gained from the rec- 
ords of Salem, which embrace the towns of the seaboard of 
Massachusetts to the North of Boston. The numerous 
housewrights are not included in this list; but it must be 
remembered that they also made a great deal of the com- 
mon kinds of furniture, such as tables, chairs, forms and 
cradles. In Lynn, we find John Davis, 1703; Thomas 
Burrage, 1718; his son, Thomas, 1751; and Timothy 
Howard, 1764. These were joiners. Jonathan Johnson 
was a chair-maker there and died in 1 74 1 . The joiners of 
Ipswich mentioned are Thomas Dennis, 1703; his son, 
Thomas, 1706; John Brown, 1746; and William Cald- 
well, 1759. Another John Brown, 1758, was a turner 
there, and Bemsley Wells, a cabinet-maker. Marblehead's 
joiners were Samuel Goodwin, 1729; Matthew Severett, 
1745; Samuel Striker and Michael Bowden, 1762; Joseph 
Potter, 1768; Francis Cook, 1772; and Job Trask, 1780. 
Thomas Laskey, 1761, and Benjamin Laskey, 1778, were 

3.6 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

chair-makers. Joiners of Salem were James Symond, 1 7 1 4 ; 
Jos. Allen, 1740; John Lander, 1757; Deacon Miles 
Ward and Joseph Gavet, 1765; Joseph Symonds, 1769; 
and Jno. Young, 1773. Lemmon Beadle, a carver, 171 7; 
and Benjamin Gray, a chair-maker, 1761, also lived there. 
Newbury, or Newburyport, sheltered Francis Halliday, 
1767; Jeremiah Pearson and Spindelow Morrison, 1768; 
Parker Titcomb, 1772; Samuel Long, 1774; and Moses 
Bayley, 1778. Besides these joiners, there were Daniel 
Harris, 1752, John Harris, 1767, and Sevvall Short, 1773, 
cabinet-makers; and Oliver Moody, 1775, and his son, 
Oliver, 1776, chair-makers. Beverley had John Corning, 
1734, turner; Joshua Bisson, 1750, and Benjamin Jones, 
1776, joiners. Other joiners were Joseph Ames, Haver- 
hill, 1 741; Benjamin Thurston, Bradford, 1746; John 
Tyler, Gloucester, 1767; Ebenezer Osgood, 1768 ; William 
Rea, Wenham, 1771 ; and David Currier, Salisbury, 1778; 
Jonathan Goodhue, Gloucester, 1 770, and Moses Dodge, 
Manchester, 1 776, were cabinet-makers : and Thomas Cross, 
Bradford, 1772, a chair-maker. 

The majority of the above were men of small means 
whose principal stock in trade consisted of tools, timber 
and boards ; and their own furniture was usually very sim- 
ple. Samuel Goodwin, j^' 1634 ; John Corning, ^^i 38 i ; 
Benjamin Thurston, ^^i i 2 i ; Parker Titcomb, ;t i 394 » ^"^ 
Job Trask were exceptionally wealthy. By a scrutiny of 
the cabinet-ware found in the shops, we can gain sure knowl- 
edge of what kind of furniture was being made for the 
average householder at the time the inventory was taken, 
and this renders this class of inventory more valuable than 
any other for our purpose. Samuel Goodwin's furniture 
(1729) shows the strange mixture of styles and materials 

3>7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




LEATHER CHAIRS AND BELLOWS 

Made by the Rev. Thcophilus Pickering in 1 724 ; now in the Pickering House, Salem, Mass. 
See page 320. 

characteristic of the transitional period between carved oak 
and mahogany. His thirty-one chairs were cane, leather, 
Turkey -work, matted-bottom, and carved-back ; and his 
tables were of maple, black walnut and white-wood. His 
shop gave no evidence of work. 

John Corning was evidently still at business as a turner 
when he died in 1734^ In his shop were eleven two- 
backed new chairs ; nine ditto without bottoms ; rungs and 

31S 





MAHOGANY TABLE MAHOGANY TABLE 

Owned by Silas Dean f, nou; in the rooms of the Owned by Lois Orne about 1770, now in the 
Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford. Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. 

See page 361. See page 361. 




S.NL^LL ROUND TABLE 

Owned by Nathaniel Silsbee in Salem, now by 

Mrs. Edward C. Pickering, Observatory, 

Cambridge, Mass. See page 362. 



MOLL PITCHERS TABLE 

Soto in the Essex Institute, Salem. 

See page 331. 



L_. 




GILT MIRROR AND MAHOGANY DRESSING TABLE 
Owned by Mrs. IVainwright, Hartford, Conn. See page 343. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

backs for chairs; stocks and spokes for spinning-wheels; 
"other stuff prepared in the shop;" a frame for an oval 
table; and thirty-six bundles of flags for chairs. The chair 
frames were probably turned out of poplar, as half a cord 
of that wood, valued at ten shillings, is all the timber in 
stock. This furniture was of the cheapest kind, since it 
totalled only j[^-2-o. Matthew Severett (^^422; 1745) 
had in his shop 1 1 8 1 ft. of pine boards, 604 ft. of maple, 
204 ft. of black walnut, and 173 ft. of oak joist. The 
latter was the cheapest, costing three-sevenths of a penny 
per foot. The maple was very slightly cheaper than the 
pine, the prices being three-fifths and two-thirds of a penny 
per foot respectively. The walnut was by far the most 
valuable, being worth three-and-one-half pence per foot. 
In Benjamin Thurston's shop (1746) there was only "ma- 
ple board and stuff" valued at ten shillings. Daniel Harris 
(^'289; 1752) had a more varied, though still limited, 
asvsortment of cabinet-ware than any of the above. His 
twenty-four chairs, thirty-two shillings, and thirty-four tables, 
^3-1-4, were common enough ; but seven desks, two tables, 
jf 20- 1 3-4, evidently belonged to the superior grade of fur- 
niture. Board, plank and joist came to ^f 8-1-5. Benjamin 
Gray (^£^38 1 ; 1 76 1 ) had a small stock of thirty-eight chairs 
in his chair-making business: ten of these were "great" 
chairs, ranging in price from eight to four shillings each. 
The other chairs cost from two shillings to thirteen pence 
each. These also must therefore have been of simple con- 
struction. 

Deacon Miles Ward (^312; 1765) had even cheaper 
chairs in his house, nine of them being worth only eight 
pence each. His fellow townsman Joseph Gavet (^^299 ; 
1765) owned a maple desk, ;^' 1-4-0; a maple case of draw- 
sis 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ers, j^'2-8-0; low case of drawers, ^'i ; and high case of 
drawers, ^{f 1-4-0. His shop contained maple, oak, pine, 
walnut and a little mahogany timber. John Harris (^^262; 
1767) had some frames for tables and black walnut and 
maple boards in his shop. Samuel Stryker's goods {j[j^ ; 
1762) were principally of maple. Three tables of that 
timber were worth twenty-four, sixteen, and six shillings 
respectively. His chairs were of a slightly better class than 
the average joiner's, costing from three shillings to sixteen 
pence each. He had a desk at £2 ; another, unfinished, 
was valued at eight, and an unfinished chair at four shil- 
lings. Joseph Symonds (^362; 1769) had a maple desk, 
^' I - 1 0-0, and a maple case of drawers ; a cherry-tree desk, 
j^2-io-o; and some black and "joiner's" chairs from four 
shillings to one shilling each. One 4-ft. table cost sixteen 
shillings; a 3-ft. ditto, eight shillings; a 3^ -ft. maple 
ditto, twelve shillings; a 3-ft. frame with leaves not hung, 
seven shillings; a breakfast ditto, two shillings; and a toi- 
lette-table, only sixpence. The timber in the shop was 
maple, black walnut, cherry and mahogany. The walnut 
was worth eight pence, the cherry, one and two-thirds 
pence, and the mahogany, eighteen pence per foot. Jo- 
nathan Goodhue (^202; 1770) left " sundry joiner's work 
unfinished, ^^i i-i I-9-" Francis Cook (^126; 1772) left 
only six shillings' worth of walnut and pine board. 

The leather chairs on page 3 1 8 were made in 1 724 
by the Rev. Theophilus Pickering of Salem. The bellows 
was also made by him, and bear that date in brass nails with 
his initials. These pieces are owned by Mr. John Picker- 
ing in Salem, Mass. The chair on page 321 is a four- 
back chair with rush bottom. It is painted green, and is 
supplied with castors. This- belonged to the Lincoln family, 

320 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



And is now in the rooms of the American 
Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass. 

The furniture of mOvSt of the joiners and 
cabinet-makers was very scanty, and the 
prices already given show 
that the wares they made 
were intended for the 
great class of yeomen, 
artisans, and mariners. 
A specimen of the cheap 
joinery work of these 
men is shown in the 
lower right-hand corner 
of the plate facing page 
318. It is a roughly 
put together table with 
falling leaves, cabriole 
legs and hoof feet. It 
belonged originally to 
Moll Pitcher, the famous 
fortune-teller of Lynn. 
She was born in 1738 in 
Marblehead. Rich and 
poor consulted her in 
serious earnest, and few vessels sailed without obtaining her 
favourable augury. Her method was divination by tea. In 
1760, she was married to Robert Pitcher, and died in 
181 3, being buried in Lynn, where she had lived for 
many years. The picture to which reference has been 
made represents the table at which she sat when receiving 
her clients. 

Sewall Short {£jq6; 1773) was a Newburyport cabi- 




OLD GREEN PAINTED ANI> Rl'>H- 

BOTTOM CHAIR 

Owned by the Lincoln fimily, now in the rooms of 
the American Antiquarian Society, Worcetter, Mao. 
See pagr 310. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

net-maker who kept a more ambitious stock both in quan- 
tity and quality. His timber comprised 1429 ft. of pine, 
i860 maple, 276 black walnut, 115 cedar, 1045 red cedar, 
448 Spanish cedar, and 44 mahogany. He made high- 
priced furniture of the latest styles and most expensive ma- 
terials. At his death, the mahogany furniture in his work- 
shop was valued at high figures even in its incomplete state. 
The mahogany pieces specified as unfinished were as fol- 
lows: desk and bookcase, ^^15; desk, ^6-15-0; bookcase, 
£^ ; plain ditto, ^^3 ; plain desk, ^4 ; and stand table, 
fourteen shillings. The other unfinished work consisted of 
a cedar desk and bookcase, ^^6-5-0; large cedar desk, 
jf 4-5-0 ; 2 common cedar ditto, ^^4-5-0 ; small maple 
ditto, sixteen shillings; black walnut table, five shillings; 
and "a quantity of stock partly wrought, jf 1-4-0." Fin- 
ished work in stock included two 4-ft. mahogany tables, 
j^4-i6-o; two 3^ -ft. ditto, ^4; mahogany chamber 
table, j^i-4-0; two 4-ft. Spanish cedar tables, ^^3-1 0-0; 
and thirty chairs (kind not specified), ;^3-i3-o. Four 
mahogany table frames, ^^3-1 0-0 ; and six cabin-stool frames 
completed the list of warehouse goods. 

Mr. Short's desks and bookcases evidently had brass 
mounts and glass doors, for he had in stock sixty brass 
handles, ;^ 1-5-0; forty-eight ditto, ^^0-16-0; two sets of 
desk brasses, ^^0-8-4 ; thirty escutcheons, ^{^0-6-3 ; twenty- 
four ditto, ^0-4-0 ; and sundry old brasses, bolts and locks, 
^0-8-0. The panes of glass in the doors were small, be- 
ing of the sizes commonly used in the windows and hall- 
lanterns of the day. Mr. Short's stock of glass comprised 
ninety-three squares 7X9,\;^i-3-3 ; and three hundred and 
seventy-six ditto 5x7, ^^2-10-1. 

(jlass was sold in standard sizes in New England as well 

322 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

as New York. Abner Chase advertises in the Essex Ga- 
zette, May 28, 1771: "Bristol crown window glass, 7x5, 
6x8, 7x9, 8x10, 9x1 1, 9x1 2." Joiners were often glaziers 
also: Thomas Waldron of Marblehead (^43; 1740) has 
"window frames, chairs and 30 squares of glass, ^^'i 2-2-0," 
among his joiner's ware. 

The only timber found in the shop of Oliver Moody, 
Jr. (j^*i68; 1776), was 82 ft. of poplar and 52 ft. of ash, 
all valued at seventeen shillings. He manufactured chairs. 
Moses Dodge (^^132; 1776) owned 675 ft. of maple at 
two pence, and 1 76 ft. of black walnut at three pence per 
foot. Benjamin Jones (;^^303; 1776) was a joiner who 
made miscellaneous cabinet-ware. His goods included a 
desk, j[2-S-o ; ditto, j^'2-4-0 ; chest with drawers, j[o- 1 3-4 ; 
case of drawers, j^*2-i3-4; seven tables, ^^'2-2-0; stand- 
table, half finished, j^o-6-8 ; table frame, j^o-io-o; brack- 
ets for desk, j^'0-2-0; legs for candlestand, ^0-1-6; lists 
(frames) and backs for chairs, ^^'o- 1 6-0 ; thirteen chairs, 
j^i-i-o; great chair and six small ditto, ^{'5-3-9; two great 
round and six joiner's ditto, ^^2-8-0; and a rough table- 
leaf, sixteen pence. Mr. Jones thus made chairs for all 
classes, — even the most fashionable. His timber consisted 
of 207 ft. walnut, 208 ft. maple, 40 ft, cherry, and one 
thousand clapboards. 

It will be seen from the above analysis of the wares pro- 
duced by local workmen in. the region of which Salem and 
Marblehead formed the head-centre, that the needs of the 
community must have been very simple, unless the native 
productions were supplemented by importations. This 
conclusion is fully supported by an examination of the in- 
ventories as a whole, which show very small estates during 
the first half century. Indeed, the first considerable estates 

3»3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

found are those of James Calley (1734), and Captain 
Joseph Smethurst (1746), both of Marblehead. Of the 
former's estate of ^2,3 1 1-16-18^ , only ;^74 represented 
household furniture, and of this a desk worth ^5, a 
looking-glass, ^^'5, and a clock ^'7, were the only notice- 
able pieces. Of Captain Smethurst's total of ^2,685-1 1-7, 
a schooner accounts for ^^300, and real estate for ^'1,000 
more. He owned silver plate valued at ^107-19-2; but 
with the exception of a Japanned tea-table (j^*5-io-o) all 
his wooden furniture was such as was made by the native 
joiners. When the woods are specified during this period, 
which is comparatively seldom, they prove to be those 
found in the joiners' shops ; viz.: pine, maple, etc. The ab- 
sence of cabinet-makers' advertisements from the Salem 
papers is noticeable. A rapid survey of their columns has 
not yielded a single example, although notices of the ar- 
rival of English goods are not uncommon. 

The same conditions existed in Boston. Sometimes we 
find a cabinet-maker removing to Salem from Boston, which 
was regarded as one of the headquarters of good work. 
We have seen Boston wares quoted in New York. An 
advertisement, in 1771, informs the public that Joseph P. 
Goodwin from Charlestown has set up business in Salem. 
** He makes best mahogany chairs, couches and easy chairs, 
sofas and anything in the chairmaking business. ... N. 
B. He has got two sorts of chairs made by him which are 
called as neat as any that are made in Boston." The last 
sentence implies that the chair-makers of the day by no 
means confined themselves slavishly to recognized styles and 
patterns, but sought to introduce variations of their own 
design. Even clocks and watches were made here in con- 
siderable quantities, and some of the native makers were in 

3*4 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

very good repute. The Salem Ga-zette of December 23, 
1774, announces that "James Furnivall, clock and watch- 
maker (late journeyman to Richard Cranch of Boston), has 
opened a shop at Marblehead." 

An Ipswich clockmaker at this date was Richard Man- 
ning; a simple clock of his, made in 1767, faces page 360. 
It is owned by the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass. 

One of the most interesting old houses in Salem has 
been made famous by Hawthorne in T^he House of the Seven 
Gables. Four generations of Turners — wealthy merchants 
of Salem — lived in it. The first. Captain John Turner, 
removed here soon after 1662. In his day, the house con- 
sisted of two large lower rooms, two chambers above, and 
rooms in the attic. Captain Turner's troop served against 
the Indians and in the Canadian Expedition. His son, 
John, was of great importance in Salem. He commanded 
the town regiment and was one of his Majesty's Council. 
He died in 1743, worth ^^ 10,75 2-1 7-8 J^ . His home was 
elaborately furnished. The "best room' contained four 
tables : one, of black walnut, was large and expensive ; an- 
other was japanned ; the third, a small walnut ; and the 
fourth, an inlaid tea-table and stand. Upon the latter 
stood a set of blue-and-white china. There were twelve 
black cane chairs, half a dozen white cane chairs, and a 
great white cane chair in the room. A looking-glass with 
two brass arms, valued at ;^ 30, and two glass sconces hung 
on the walls, as well as nineteen mezzotints covered with 
glass. A bright fire blazed upon the usual brass hearth 
furniture ; and the great amount of china and glass, in- 
cluding punch-bowls, flowered decanters, plates, dishes, tea- 
pots, etc., indicates that the " best room " was a breakfast and 
dining, as well as a living room. 

s»$ 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The "Great Chamber" was equally well furnished. 
Its most valuable piece of furniture was the bed with its 
head-cloth, tester, double set of curtains of camblet and 
"flow'd muzling," its silk quilt and blankets. The window 
curtains matched the bed curtains, as was the custom of the 
day. The next important articles were a " case of drawers 
and mounts" and a cabinet, worth respectively ^31-10-0 
and j^2^. There were no less than eighteen chairs here. 
There was, of course, an open fire upon brass andirons, and 
on the walls were twenty pictures in lacquered frames, and 
a looking-glass with two brass arms. There was a consid- 
erable amount of china in this " great chamber," including 
a " sullabub pott," and three china images used as orna- 
ments. Some of it stood upon a painted table and a stand. 
Nearly every article used in table service is found here. 

The Hall contains a clock worth j£i^\ and a long, 
a black walnut oval, and two small tables. There are two 
old chairs, and twelve leather chairs, a looking-glass, three 
maps, and a brass dial ; and iron dogs instead of the custo- 
mary brass. 

Passing into the hall chamber, we find a bed hung with 
calico curtains, head-cloth and tester, and made comfort- 
able with a blanket, a green rug, a blue rug, and a large 
and small calico quilt. The windows are draped, seven 
pictures brighten the walls, and we note a " case of draws," 
a cypress chest, a square table, a stand, four black chairs, 
one old chair, and some china, among which is a large 
coffee-cup. 

The "shop chamber" contains a bed with curtains, 
head-cloth and valance, two old chairs and three small 
pictures. Six pictures adorn the stairway; and a map of 
Virginia and Maryland, and one of Boston, the entry way. 

336 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The "Porch Chamber" was furnished with a bed and 
bedstead having a tester, head-cloth, curtains and valance 
and four rugs, worth altogether ^^25; and an old chest of 
drawers. 

The "Kitchen Chamber" had a more expensive bed 




MAHOGANY FIELD-BED 
In the Warner Hout^, Portsmouth, N. H. See page 334. 



and bedstead, adorned with blue curtains and furnished with 
two blankets and two quilts. A looking-glass, an old oak 
table, an old case of drawers, and five Turkey-work and 
five callimanco chairs complete the furniture of this room. 
The windows were made cheerful by six curtains of calico. 
Four pictures hung on the walls. There was the usual 
brass hearth furniture, and in this room were kept great 

8»7 



TOE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

stores of Holland, garlix, ** oznabriggs " and other materials 
for sheeting and counterpanes, besides table linen amount- 
ing to no less than ^'390. The "Great Chamber Gar- 
rott" was also a store room. Here we find two old bed- 
steads, an old chest, fifteen old rugs, and a feather bed 
weighing fifty pounds. The "Accounting Room," on the 
first rioor, contained an old slate table, three trunks and a 
chest. We cannot fail to notice the arms and ammunition 
here, including pistols and bullets; nor the silver scales and 
weights worth ^5, a silver-hilted sword-belt and dagger 
valued at ^^8, velvet holsters, a bufl^ belt and three straps 
and belt, and a case with fifteen bottles. 

In Captain Francis Goelet's yo«r«tf/ ( 1746- 1750) we 
get a glimpse of the best house of this district. 

" Oct. 20th. Lodg'd at Mr. Brownes after Breakfast 
Sauntered round the Towne mayking Our Observations on 
the Build% etc. Dynd at his House after Dinner had a 
Good Deal Conversation with him upon Various subjects, 
he being a Gent" of Excellent Parts well Adversed in Lea- 
turate, a Good Scholar, a Vertuosa and Lover of the Lib- 
eral Arts and Sciences, having an Extraordinary Library of 
Books of the Best Ancient and Modern Authors, about 3 
a Clock we Sett out in his Coach for his Country Seat 
rideing trough a Pleasant Country and fine Rhoads we ar- 
rived there at 4 a clock the Situation is very Airy Being 
upon a Heigh Hill which Over Looks the Country all 
Round and aflx^rds a Pleasant Rural Prospect of a Fine 
Country with fine woods and Lawns with Brooks water 
running trough them. You have also a Prospect of the 
Sea on one Part and On another A Mountain 80 Miles 
distant. The House is Built in the Form of a Long Square, 
with Wings at Each End, and is about 80 Foot Long, in 

3Z8 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the middle is a Grand Hall Surrounded above by a fine Cial- 
lery with Neat turned Bannester and the Cealing of the 
Hall representing a Large room Designed for an Assembly 
or Ball Room, the Gallery for the Musicians, etc. The 
Building has four doors Fronting the N. E. S. and W. 
Standing in the Middle the Great Hall you have a Full 
View of the Country from the Four Dores at the Ends of 
the Buildings in 2 upper and 2 Lower Rooms with Neat 
Stair Cases Leadeing to them in One the Lower Rooms is 
his Library and Studdy well Stockd with a Noble Collec- 
tion of Books." 

We have seen that none of the Salem or Marblehead 
joiners and cabinet-makers, whom we have found recorded 
before 1773, kept in stock the most expensive kinds of fur- 
niture, whether imported or home-made; we have also seen 
that the newspapers do not mention it. The question 
therefore naturally arises : Where did the Turners, Brownes 
and other prosperous merchants procure their fine furniture? 
The answer is that some of it was made to order, and the 
rest was specially imported, sometimes in their own ships, 
just as was the case in Boston. 

It was quite the custom for persons of affluence to have 
their furniture made to order, and sometimes they imported 
their own woods, as in the case of Christopher Champlin, 
a young merchant of Newport, R. I., who brought with 
him from the West Indies, in 1 762, several logs of mahogany 
and had a number of pieces of furniture constructed. 
Among these was a bureau which was used for many years 
by his daughter. Miss Peggy Champlin, quite a famous 
belle, and by his son, Christopher Grant Champlin, who 
purchased the Champlin House in Newport (previously 
known as the Cheeseborough House) in 1782. The bureau 

3»9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

finally descended to Mr. George Champlin Mason, of 
Newport. 

The correspondence of merchants with their foreign 
agents from the earliest times contains many orders for 
purchases of household goods. Sufficient has survived to 
show the extent of this practice. A few specific instances 
may be offered in evidence. 

In a letter to Samuel Storke, dated ** Boston, N. E., 
Feb. 20, ly'^y" we find Judge Sewall enclosing the follow- 
ing "Memoranda": 
"To be Bought. 

" Curtains and Vallens for a Bed, with Counterpane, 
Head-Cloth and Tester of good yellow waterd worsted 
camlet * with Triming well made ; and Bases, if it be the 
fashion. 

" A good fine large Chintz Quilt well made. A True 
Looking-Glass of black Walnut Frame of the newest 
Fashion (if the Fashion be good), as good as can be bought 
for five or six pounds. 

" A second Looking-Glass as good as can be bought for 
four or Five pounds, same kind of frame. 

" A Duzen of good black Walnut chairs, fine Cane, with 
a Couch. A Duzen of Cane Chairs of a different figure, 
and great Chair, for a Chamber; all black Walnut." 

His list also includes a bell-metal skillet, a warming- 
pan, four pairs of brass-headed iron dogs, a brass hearth for 
a chamber with dog's tongs, shovel and fender of the new- 
est fashion (the fire to lie on the iron), a brass mortar, four 
pairs of brass candlesticks, four brass snuffers with stands, 
six small brass chafing dishes, two brass basting ladles, a pair 



* " Send also of the same Camlet and Triming, as may be enotigh to make Cushions 
for the Chamber Chairs." 

330 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of bellows with brass noses, a small hair broom, a dozen large 
pewter plates, newest fashion, a dozen pewter porringers, a 
dozen small glass salt-cellars, and a dozen good ivory-hafted 




MAHOOANY LOW CASE OF DRAWERS AND MAHOGANY LOOKING-GLASS 
Uwnetl by Mid Sherburne, Warner Houie, Purtunouth, N. H. See page 367. 



knives and forks. These articles are intended for his daugh- 
ter Judith. He sends j^ 50 and adds, " If there be any money 
over, send a piece of fine Cambrick and a Ream of good 
Writing Paper." 

Another instance is the following order in a letter from 

33« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Sir William Pepperell to Silas Hooper in England. It is 
dated December 6, 1737. He writes: 

" I Desire you will buy and send me by y^ first good 
Opportunity, for this port or Boston, twenty peaces ossen- 
brigs ; eight dosn. of halfe hower glasses ; foure dos° of halfe 
minit glasses; three peaces of bedtick of about fiveteen 
pence p' yard ; — ten peaces of Lubeck Duck ; six dozen of 
such castor hats you sent last ... six dos" of Cheep Closet 
Locks, six dos" of such Chist Locks you sent last, a grose 
of pad Locks; about Cw* of puf dishes, a grose of put"^ 
plates, fifty w' of puf^ basons; ... a dos° of hansome 
Chairs of y'^ New fashion for a Chamber and a hansome 
looking glass for y* same, and Curtains, etc., for a bed of 
y* same, and Case of draws. Send me brass and Locks and 
henges for six Scritors and Ditto for y^ same for Case of 
Draws ; six dos" p*^ of buts for henges of tables ... a Dos" 
of Choice Chist locks that cannot be pickt ; . . . foure 
dos" p' of Snipe bells to hang small Chists ; . . . send two 
marble Stons to make two haths one of six feet Long and 
fifteen Inches wide ; . . . The hight of y' Chamber, where 
y* bed is to be put, between y* flore and y' plasturing, is 8 
feet and 4 Inches . . . You have here inclosed, a draught 
of a chamber, I desire you to geet mock tapestory or pant*^ 
canvis lay** in oyle for hangings for y* same, and send me 
. . . My wife would Chuse that y' Curtains for y* bed sent 
for in this foregoing Letter Should be of a Crimson Couler, 
if Fashionable." (Other instances of individual importa- 
tions are given on pages 374—76 and 380—82.) 

Two of Sir William's chairs are shown on page 333. 
They are now in the Ladd House, Portsmouth, N. H. 
These were of carved oak frames filled in with cane and 
cane seats, as the back still indicates. This style of chair 

33a 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

has frequently appeared in our former pages. It belongs to 
the seventeenth century, but like other styles it overlapped. 
Sir William Pepperell was one of the most distinguished 




CARVED OAK CHAIRS 
Originally owned by Sir William Pepperell } now in the LadJ Huu«e, Portunouth, N. H. See pge 331 



New Englanders. He was born in Kittery, Me., in 1696, 
and died there in 1759. He was the only native of New 
England created a baronet. His title was the reward for 
his service at the siege and capture of Louisburg in 1745. 



333 



thp: furniture of our forefathers 

His house was richly furnished, his table was resplendent 
with massive plate, costly mirrors and paintings adorned his 
walls, his cellar was filled with choice wines, and his park 
stocked with deer. 

When his daughter, Elizabeth, was married to Natha- 
niel Sparhawk, her father built a handsome residence for 
her and furnished it in the richest style. In accordance 
with the English fashion, a certain colour predominated in 
each chamber. The bed and window curtains were of red, 
blue, yellow and other coloured damask and each room was 
designated the Red, the Blue, the Yellow, or the Green 
Room. To this bright use of colour in colonial days we 
have frequently drawn attention. 

The interesting bed shown on page 32715 a mahogany 
field bed which so frequently appears in the homes of the 
period. It is owned by Miss Sherburne and is in the 
Warner House, Portsmouth, N. H. 

Connecticut preserves the seventeenth-century flavour 
in her houses until many years after the new century has 
come in. Leather, sealskin, wooden and serge chairs are 
the only kinds found in the house of Col. Robert Treat 
(1710). Eleven years later, Col. Joseph Treat (^2,026) 
has only leather chairs; and a brass clock, ^5-10-0, is his 
most expensive piece of furniture. An example of this 
clock has been given (see facing page 168). John 
Hodson (^947; 171 I ) has a bed in every room except 
the hall; the principal furniture of the latter being two 
square tables and eleven high- and twelve low-backed 
leather chairs. The old "cupboard" still lingers. John 
Mix, of New Haven (171 2), has a ** cuberd with ye cloth, 
and earthen things on the cuberds head." Robert Treat, 
Jr. ( jC 2y3^ 3 y 1 72 1 j, owns a "cupboard in ye parlour, glass 

334 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

case, great chest in ye parlour," great chair carved, and 
old carved cupboard. 

However, the old carved furniture was no longer being 
made; the chairs especially were undergoing a great 
change. Some of those mentioned about 1710 are cane, 
black, white and varnished. The change from the seven- 
teenth century appears plainly in the inventory of John 
Mix, Jr. (j^*i,254; 1722), who possessed "six crooked- 
backed chairs, two great ditto, six straight-backed ditto, 
six tive-slat ditto, three red ditto, and eight plain ditto." 
The straight-backed chairs had turned posts and front legs; 
and horizontal Hat bars in the back made them two-, three-, 
four-, or five-slat chairs. Samuel Clark of Milford 
(j^'6,666; 1725) had leather, black, red and white chairs. 
The red chair was made of white-wood and painted. We 
also find red calfskin and red Russia-leather chairs men- 
tioned. Black chairs were very general now ; and the 
Turkey-work chair was as popular as ever. Mary Prout 
( 1724) owned six new Turkey-work chairs, six older ditto, 
and three lower ditto. She also owned twenty-three others, 
including two great chairs. There was thus considerable 
variety in height. The old square timber chairs survived 
in many houses, and chairs with cane in the back lasted 
far into the century. 

The great mass of furniture in Connecticut was en- 
tirely of native manufacture. Oak was largely neglected, 
the favourite woods being cedar, white-wood, cherry and 
black walnut. In 1726, a rich cabinet-maker of New 
Haven has cedar, cherry and white-wood boards only in 
his shop. The chests, cases, and desks of drawers that 
were made in such large numbers now often had brass 
mounts. The applied black ornaments and knobs were 

335 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

falling into disuse, and were labeled "old-fashioned" in the 
inventories. In 1726, drops and escutcheons are valued at 
fourpence each. Mahogany made slow progress in public 
favour in Connecticut. With the exception of a stray 
piece here and there, it shows no sign till well on towards 
the middle of the century. Job Smith of New Haven 
(^8,907; 1743), did not possess a single piece of ma- 
hogany. His most expensive articles were two escritoires 
at ^'9 each, a black walnut case of drawers at ^7, and an 
eight-day clock at ^^30. His chairs were leather, wooden, 
black, and covered with shalloon. By this time, tables such 
as those facing page 64 and on page 97 were no longer 
made. Mr. Smith had an " old-fashion " one that was valued 
at four shillings only, whereas his three oval tables came 
to ^^7-5-0. His fellow townsmen, Lieutenant Stephen 
Trowbridge (^^3,010; 1744), Michael Todd (^^7,028; 
1745), Elihu Yale (^8,189; 1748), and Theophilus Mun- 
son (^6,868; 1749), also lacked any mahogany among 
their household goods. At that date, men of their posi- 
tion and relative wealth in other colonies would have been 
behind the times without at least mahogany chairs and tables. 
Lieutenant Trowbridge's chairs were great, old slat, plain, 
slat-bannister, crown-back, three-slat and four-slat. The 
woods are not mentioned. The only other pieces of cabi- 
net-ware of any importance are a case of drawers, ^15, and 
a case of drawers of cherry-tree on frame ^^i 2-1 0-0. 
Michael Todd had a case of drawers with steps, £6^ and 
a button-wood oval table, ^^2-15-0; but nothing else of 
note. Elihu Yale's chairs were old black, black slat-back, 
and white. He had seven tables, including a "vernish 
table" (lacquered) and an old table with oak leaf. He 
owned a valuable chest of drawers and several old-fashioned 

336 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

chests, one with a drawer, drop and escutcheon. The de- 
scription of the latter answers to that shown on page 271. 
Cherry was used extensively in the construction of 
tables, chairs and chests and cases of drawers. Kalm has 




CROWN-BACK CHAIR 
Owned by the Whipple family, now by the Mines Burnett, EimwoeJ, Cambridge, Mass. See page 338. 



explained the virtues and popularity of this wood (see page 
285). A low case of drawers and a chest of drawers of 
Connecticut make appear on pages 339 and 395. They 
are of dark cherry and are both ornamented with the sun- 
flower. Both pieces are owned by Thompson S. Grant, 
Esq., Enfield, Conn. 

In the middle of the century, the prevailing styles of 



337 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

chair still include black, white and cane-back, as well as 
leather and Turkey-work bottoms. A good deal of cherry 
appears side by side with white-wood. Warham Mather 
(jf 2,511; 1745) had several pieces of cherry, one of 
which was a large table — no mahogany is mentioned. 
Theophilus Manson (^6,868; 1749) has two-slat, three- 
slat, four-slat and crown-back chairs. He also owns a 
case of drawers on a frame with feet, ;^20, and a desk, 
j^i2 ; but again no mahogany. 

In the same year, we find black chairs with straight 
backs, flat-backed ditto, and black crook-back ditto. We 
also gather that white-wood board costs threepence per 
foot. The Rev. Samuel Whittelsey (^21,641 — 14—10; 
1752) has walnut, cherry and white- wood furniture, but 
no mahogany. Among other things, he has six cherry- 
tree chairs, ^9 ; a black walnut chest of drawers and table, 
^54 ; a desk, ^^23 ; a white-wood coloured table, £'2.-\ 5-0, 
and a coloured square table, ^^i-io-o. 

The two-, three-, four-, and five-slat chairs were the 
same that were called two-back, four-back, etc., in the 
Boston inventories. The crown-back chairs belonging to 
Lieutenant Trowbridge and Theophilus Manson had lately 
come into fashion here. The shape of the back, which 
somewhat closely follows the outline of a crown, gave this 
chair its name. In common with so many other designs 
of carved walnut and mahogany frames of that period, this 
is often attributed to Chippendale. One variety of the 
crown-back chair appears on page 123, and another on 

page 337- 

The latter is an early and plain form, and shows the 
crown in part of the splat as well as the top of the back. 
This is one of two chairs originally owned by the Whip- 

338 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

pie family. They belong to the Misses Burnett, grand- 
daughters of Mr. James Russell Lowell, at Elmwood, Cam- 
bridge, Mass. 

Although no mahogany is mentioned, the household 




LOW CASE OF DRAWERS, OR DRESSING-TABLK (DARK CHERRY) 
Owned by Thompton S. Grant, E«)., Enfieki, Conn. S«e page 337. 



goods of Joseph Bryan, of Milford (^^1,062 ; 1752), show 
some pretensions to elegance. Of his thirty-six chairs, six 
had worked bottoms, six were of Turkey-work, three 
white and two dozen black. An oval table, £\o\ a tea- 
table, £\ ; a large waxwork (lacquer) case, ^^ 20 ; and a 
case of drawers and a dressing-table, ^{'33, are the mOvSt 
noticeable pieces. The very expensive case of drawers was 



339 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

probably made by a native cabinet-maker ; and some of the 
cost was due to brass mounts, the value of which we can 
gather from the contemporary inventory of John Miles 
(^{'4,804; 1755). He owned one set of brass for a chest 
of drawers, ^3, and another for a desk, ;;^io. He seems 
to have worked, like so many of his brethren, almost 
exclusively in cherry and white-wood. His shop con- 
tained 202 ft. of the latter at sixpence per foot, and 384 
ft. of cherry at 175^ pence per foot. 

On page 341 are shown two mahogany pieces owned by 
Miss Marion P. Whitney, New Haven, Conn. The chair 
was originally the property of Governor William Pitkin 
(1694— 1769), governor of Connecticut in 1766—69. The 
model shows a curious combination of Anglo-Dutch legs 
and frame-work with the Gothic tracery in the splat that 
came into fashion in England towards the middle of the 
century. The table is square with falling leaves supported 
by legs that may be pulled in or out. These are slightly 
cabriole and end in hoof feet. An oval table of the same 
period appears on page 379. 

The Providence inventories tell the same story as those 
of New Haven. There was plenty of comfort, and the houses 
were thoroughly well furnished, but the cabinet-ware was 
of native make, except in rare instances. Among the many 
estates of more than one thousand pounds, we have the fol- 
lowing: Major W. Crawford, ^^3,551, 1720; Benjamin 
Tillinghast, ^4,776, 1726; Job Harris, ^1,615, 1729; 
Captain Nicholas Power, ^^1,751, 1734; Captain William 
Walker, ^^2,498, 1742; Arnold Coddington, ^^3,640, 
1742; Stephen Arnold, ^^2,127, 1743; Peter Thatcher, 
^1,121, 1745; Captain William Tillinghast, ^4,290, 
1753; Captain Ebenezer Hill, ^^'3,3 14; David Rutting- 

340 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




MAHOGANY TABLE AND CHAIR 

The Latter originally belonged tu Governor William Fitkin. Now owned by Miss Marion P. Whitney, 
New Haven, Conn. See page 340. 



borg, j^'1,425; John Mawney, ^^9,050; Rev. John Check- 
ley, ;^ 2, 5 30, and George Dunbar, j^2, 261, all 1754; Oliver 
Arnold, ^1,021, 1771. In none of these inventories is a 
single piece of mahogany recorded, with the exception of 
John Mawney, who possessed a solitary desk of that wood 
valued at ^^40. When the woods are mentioned, which, 
relatively, is very seldom, we find the same as in Connec- 
ticut : pine, walnut, white-wood, maple and cherry. Peter 
Thatcher and David Ruttingborg both made furniture ; the 
former had maple boards in his shop, and the latter had 
pine. The old "cupboard" gives place at an early date to 
the case of drawers. The latter and the escritoire formed 
the most decorative pieces of furniture in the rooms, and 
often attained high values. Arnold Coddington's desk was 
worth ;t 20. It was mounted with brass, as was all the new 
furniture of that kind. Mr. Coddington had a lot of brass 

J4« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

for sale for the use of native cabinet-makers. It comprised 
three dozen Dutch rings and escutcheons at three shillings 
a dozen ; three gross of extra desk brass handles at eighteen 
shillings a dozen, with ten dozen escutcheons to match, at 
fourteen shillings a dozen; a gross of brass handles at fif- 
teen shillings a dozen, with seven dozen escutcheons to 
match at eleven shillings a dozen ; ten dozen brass handles 
at twelve shillings a dozen, with six and a half dozen 
escutcheons at eight shillings a dozen ; some odd brass han- 
dles; and a fine-ward desk-lock valued at one guinea. 

The case of drawers was low and high. To-day the 
two varieties are popularly known as "low-boy" and 
" high-boy," but I have never come across these terms in 
any inventory of the seventeenth or eighteenth century. In 
the Providence inventories, the distinction between chest 
of, or with drawers, and the case of drawers is clearly 
maintained. For example, John Mawney (1754) owns a 
maple low case of drawers at twelve and a chest with drawers 
at eight pounds. Benjamin Tillinghast also has a chest with 
drawers at three, and a case of drawers with glasses upon it at 
seven pounds. The top of the case of drawers was therefore 
adorned with china and glass as the head of the cupboard, 
which it superseded, had been. The case of drawers first 
appeared probably about 1 690, and made rapid strides into 
popularity. It is found in the majority of comfortable 
homes in the early years of the eighteenth century, and the 
native workmen soon construct it of black walnut, cherry, 
white-wood, maple and even pine. When made of white- 
wood, or pine, it was usually coloured: the favourite tint 
was Indian red, but sometimes these woods were stained, 
grained and dappled to imitate maple and other woods. 
Some of these cases of drawers, although presenting a good 

342 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

outward appearance, are of somewhat flimsy workmanship, 
and show signs of cheap construction. The drawers sometimes 
are ill-fitting. A very fine example of the high case of draw- 
ers, belonging to Mr. George Dudley Seymour, of New 
Haven, is shown on the frontispiece. This is made of 
white-wood and was originally stained Venetian red. It is 
now coloured a deep brown, and is adorned with brass drop- 
handles. 




LOW CASE OF DRAWERS 

Originally owned by Governor Dudley, now by the Concord Antiquarian Society, Concord. See 
page 368. 

Another six-legged high case of drawers appears facing 
page 390. It is preserved in the Whipple House, 
Ipswich, Mass. 

A low case of drawers, or dressing table with drawers, 
of cheap wood painted black, such as was made by the 
native joiners, faces page 326. It is owned by the Essex 
Institute, Salem, Mass. Another, owned by the Concord 
Antiquarian Society, is represented on page 367 and one, 
owned by Mrs. Wainwright, of Hartford, faces page 322. 

343 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

When mahogany came into general use, it was used in 
the construction of the case of drawers, side by side with 
the other woods. By that date, the legs had become slen- 
der, and had been reduced to four in number. The low 
case of drawers probably never had more than four legs, 
although six-legged so-called "low-boys" are occasionally 
shown ; but these are really only the lower part of the high 
case of drawers which rested upon it, and which has been 
lost. The low case had two or more rows of drawers ; the 
lower part of the high case generally had one only. The 
illustrations will make this clear. If the upper parts of the 
high cases of drawers facing pages 313 and 390 were re- 
moved, there would be a sense of incompleteness in the lower 
parts that is not felt with the low cases given on pages 339 
and 343, and especially on page 331. On page 345 ap- 
pears the lower part of a six-legged case of drawers owned 
by Mrs. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. 

Before leaving Providence, we should note the hetero- 
geneous collection of cabinet-ware found in the houses as 
we approach the Revolution. Oliver Arnold (1771) will 
serve as an instance. Of mahogany he owned a high case 
of drawers, two square tea-tables, a china table, and a 4^ - 
ft. square-leaved table; of black walnut, a desk and book- 
case and a 4-foot table ; of cherry, a china table ; of maple, 
a 5-foot table, a square and an oval tea-table; a 4-foot, a 4- 
foot round, and an oval table, and six framed chairs; and 
of pine, a long table. Other furniture, the wood of which 
is not specified, includes an old high case of drawers, an 
older ditto, two small tables and a candlestand, a small 
stand-table, six framed green, two high-backed and two 
low Windsor, six framed-seat banistered, six banistered, six 
four-back, two round, and a great chair. 

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"BEAUFAIT" 

From a house in Vernon Place, Boston. Now in the Old State House, Boston, Mass. 

See page 353. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

In our survey of this period before the Revolution, if 
we examine the full contents of a typical home every ten 
years or so, we shall be able to form a clear idea of the suc- 
cessive changes and developments of household furniture. 
The possessions of Governor Phipps (see page 230) are 




PART OF A SIX-LEGGED HIGH CASE OF DRAWERS 
Owned by Mn. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. See page 344. 



representative of the best that was in use during the first 
decade of the eighteenth century. His chests of drawers 
with tables-and-stands and dressing-boxes were of the new 
style we have just been considering. In his house also, we 
still find the closet which was a sort of alcove, or small 
annex to a larger chamber. We constantly come across 
this in the better class of house all through this period. 
Robert Bronsden (^3,252; 1702) had a closet to his 

S4S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

dining-room that contained a table, his pistols and some 
books. In the closet of the Chamber over Hall, there were 
three Turkey-work chairs, a table with a calico carpet, a 
picture and a sword. In the closet to the Chamber over 
Dining Room, there was a bedstead with curtains and 
valance, besides a black frame looking-glass; while the room 
itself contained only a square table, six Turkey-work chairs, 
some things on the mantel-tree, and brass hearth-ware. 

A view of a comfortable Boston home of 1707 is 
gained from that of Katharine Eyre, widow of John Eyre, 
who is about to be married to Wait Winthrop. Her hall 
is furnished with two oval tables, a dozen cane chairs and a 
great chair, a couch and quilt, a looking-glass, a clock 
worth ^iiy and brass andirons, shovel and tongs. In the 
hall chamber, which is the most expensively furnished 
room in the house, there is a handsome bedstead hung 
with china curtains trimmed with India silk. A quilt of 
the same lies upon the feather bed, as well as a pair of fine 
large blankets. She owns an olive wood cabinet valued at 
£z^. Six Turkey-work chairs, a cane couch, a table and a 
looking-glass complete the furniture of this attractive apart- 
ment, rendered still more so by a number of books worth 
j^i 5. The fire-place is adorned with brass; the light is de- 
rived from candles in brass candlesticks. The "kitchen 
chamber " is furnished with a feather bed and bedstead, 
hung with "searge curtains and vallens." A chest with 
drawers, worth ^^7, stands in this room, and there are 
seven cane chairs and couch, a looking-glass, andirons, 
tongs and shovel. Six Turkey-work chairs form the seats 
in the Little Chamber, where the large bedstead is also 
hung with "searge curtains and vallens." Green curtains 
are in "ye chamber over the kitchen chamber" and cur- 

346 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tains of that colour decorate the bedstead. In "ye little 
room" there were nine cane chairs, two little tables, a 
looking-glass, and andirons, tongs, etc. A feather bed 
seems to have been the only furniture of the " second 
chamber over ye little room." One of the bedsteads is dec- 
orated with **a suit of white callicoe curtains and vallens 
lac'd." Mrs. Eyre possessed plate amounting to j[i6g and 
a considerable amount of table and bed linen. Her estate 
totalled j^'5,328-12-2, and of this ^183-15-0 was in fur- 
niture. 

The tables show little change during these early years. 
Oak, pine and black walnut, with occasional cedar and 
maple, are the chief woods. Captain Andrew Wilson 
(1710) has a chestnut table, and Thomas Gilbert (1719) a 
large oval one of beech. Square, round and eight-square 
are common shapes, but the oval is even more favoured, 
and the octagon gradually disappears. The slate table is 
not rare. 

Between 1700 and 1720, we meet with the following 
varieties of chairs: seal-skin, Turkey-work, leather, rush, 
cane, wicker, patchwork, black, black matted, black bass, 
black cane, flag, knit, low-back, two-back, three-back, four- 
back, five-back, mohair, bass, blue serge, green-flowered 
serge, cane-back with bass bottoms, cane-back with leather 
bottoms, blue china, flat-back, plate-back, straight-back, and 
crook-back. The four-back is the same chair that is 
called tour-slat elsewhere during this period. Examples of 
the four- and five-back (or slat) chair have already been 
given on page 87. The straight is reprevsented on f>age 4; 
and varieties of the flat-back chair, which had a flat splat^ 
appear on pages 39, 65 and 85. An early example of the 
crook-back chair is shown on page i o i and another variety 

147 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

on page 184. The tendency to stuff the seats of the chairs 
and cover them with more or less rich material, in addition 
to Turkey-work and leather, was rapidly increasing. Com- 




^f^' 



RUSH-BOTTOM CHAIR 
Owned by Dr. James Read Chadwick, Boston, Mass. See page 349. 



fort was no longer largely left to the ministry of cushions. 
The consequence is that by 1720 cushions, except for win- 
dow-seats, have largely disappeared from the inventories. 
We find them sometimes retained, however, with rush- and 
bass-bottomed chairs. The elbow chair is often specified 

348 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

"with cushions." The elbow and the easy chair are dis- 
tinct : the arms, back and seat of the latter were all up- 
holstered, the commonest form being the "wing chair" (see 
facing page 184 and page 293). Charles Shepreeve 
(1722) owned six elbow chairs, ^^4-1 0-0; and one easy 
chair, £^z. The rush-bottom chair represented on page 
348 and owned by Dr. James Read Chadwick, Boston, 
Mass., is an exceedingly interesting specimen. The legs 
and stretchers are survivals of an earlier period, while the 
top rail is "embowed" and the jar-shaped splat pierced 
(see page 277). A rush-bottom corner chair, sometimes 
called a "roundabout" chair, with similar legs, is shown 
on page 364. Joint-stools are still in use in some houses. 
Bedsteads, high and trundle, still maintain their place, and 
are adorned with a variety of bright curtains, hangings and 
rugs or quilts that generally match the window curtains, 
and often the chair-covers, in hue and material. Varieties 
of the folding-bed are met with more frequently. Elisha 
Hopkins (171 2) owns a press bedstead worth ninety shil- 
lings; and an old one belonging to Samuel Jacklen (171 8) 
is set down at fifteen shillings. The latter was hung with 
old homespun curtains and valance. 

It has already been shown how difficult it is to get 
precise definitions of terms in the dictionaries that were 
printed before the middle of the eighteenth century. It is 
only when we find both the chest with drawers and the 
case of drawers in the same inventory, that we can be sure 
that these differed in kind. Even during the reign of 
Queen Anne, the distinction between the trunk and the 
chest was not uniformly maintained in the Boston inven- 
tories. The chest and the chest with drawers were some- 
times covered with leather like the trunk; and the trunk 

349 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

had drawers and sometimes feet like the chest. Thus 
Ambrose Daws (1706) had an old leather chest with draw- 
ers; and Josias Byles {1708) and Captain Andrew Wilson 
(1710) each owned a trunk with feet. An early chest 
with drawers of this period that may also have been classi- 
fied as a trunk with drawers, faces page 344. It is inter- 
esting as showing the first step in the development of the 
chest of drawers from the most elementary form of chest 
(see pages 215—6). This trunk is covered with red leather 
and studded with brass nails arranged to form a border of 
rose, thistle and shamrock. Upon the top is the mono- 
gram A. R. It is said to have been the travelling trunk 
of Queen Anne, and was purchased in Guilford, Surrey, by 
Mr. Charles Wyllys Elliott in 1870. It is now owned by 
Mrs. Charles Wyllys Elliott, Cambridge, Mass. 

The hall shown on page 351 is that of the Warner 
House, Portsmouth, N. H. This is the oldest brick build- 
ing now standing in that town. It was built in 171 8 and 
finished in 1723 at a cost of ^6,000. It was originally 
owned by Captain Archibald Macpheadris, a merchant and 
native of Scotland, who married a daughter of Governor 
John Wentworth. Their daughter Mary became the wife 
of the Hon. Jonathan Warner in 1754. Mr. Warner was 
one of the King's Council and remained a Tory. 

A mahogany low case of drawers, or dressing-table, 
from this house appears on page 331. 

Our next typical home is that of Mr. John Mico, a 
wealthy Boston merchant (^11,230-17-0, 1718). His 
house contained twelve rooms, besides the entry with stair- 
case, pantry, cellar and wash-house. The Dining-room con- 
tained two tables, six Turkey-work and four bass chairs, a 
looking-glass, four sconces, a good clock worth ^10, brass 

350 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 







HALL IN THE WARNER HOUSE 
Portsmouth, N. H., built in 1716. See page 350. 



andirons, etc., and glass in the " Beaufett," and "earthen- 
ware in the closett." The Hall contained no bedstead, and 
seems to have kept its character as a hall. Here we notice 
a "scriptore," or writing desk, upon which stand some 
glasses; there is a chimney table and a chimney glass, a 
large looking-glass, a tea-table with a set of china upon it; 
and sixteen chairs and two elbow chairs reach the value of 
jf 14. A touch of elegance is bestowed by "four sconces 
with silver sockets" upon the walls, and five cushions lend 
comfort to the chairs. Among the ornaments is a flower- 
pot. The firelight flickers upon brass andirons, etc. The 
next important room is the " Hall Chamber." A luxurious 



351 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

"silk bed and furniture" worth ^^30, a couch, squab and 
pillow, a table, dressing-box and two stands, "a table 
and twilight," a chest of drawers, two elbow chairs and 
cushions, seven mohair chairs and brass hearth-ware 
make it evident that the eighteenth century is present 
here. Seven pictures, a "lanthorn," and twelve leather 
buckets for readiness in case of fire, of course, hang in 
the "Staircase and Entry." A Little Room, made cheer- 
ful by a log blazing on the brass andirons, is furnished 
with a square table, nine leather chairs and a number of 
books. In the "Chamber over the Little Room" we find 
six Turkey-work and two cane chairs, a square black table, 
and an iron chest. "A set of mantle tree ware" brightens 
the chimney-piece, and beneath it the fire burns upon 
the usual brass hearth furniture. The chamber over the 
dining-room contains a looking-glass, a table and chairs, a 
couch and squab, andirons, and a bed hung with white 
curtains. The chamber over the kitchen has, in addition 
to the bedstead a chest with drawers, six old chairs, an old 
looking-glass and dogs, etc. In the kitchen we find six 
leather chairs, an oak and a pine table, a looking-glass and 
323 ounces of plate. In the four upper chambers there is 
a mat for a floor worth ^^2, a press, a screen, a little bed 
and suit of blue curtains, a fine case of drawers and chairs, 
trunks, bedsteads, etc. Altogether there are more than 
sixty-eight chairs in Mr. Mico's house. 

A new feature of the parlour or dining-room that came 
into general use during these years, and occurs in the above 
inventory, was the corner cupboard, known as the buffet, 
variously spelt beaufet, beaufett, beaufait, bofet, etc. On 
its shelves, glass, china and earthenware were displayed. 
It was not a movable, but was fixed in a corner of the 

35* 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

room, rounding out the angle and producing a most pleas- 
ing effect. The word does not appear in the early dic- 
tionaries of Phillips, Kersey, Cocker, and others, but in 
1748, Dyche describes buffet as "a handsome open cup- 
board or repository for plate, glass, china, etc., which are 
put there either for ornament or convenience of serving 
the table." In 1738, Mrs. Mary Blair's "Bofett" con- 
tained twenty-three enamelled plates, five burnt china ditto, 
a pair quart china mugs, seven breakfast bowls, six smaller 
ditto, a large sugar-pot, twenty-six china cups, twenty-eight 
china saucers, four china tea-pots, one pair small flowered 
stands and a small server, one glass double cruet, a hearth 
brush, and a pair of blue and white china mugs. The 
total value was ;f 32-3-0. 

In William Clarke's "Bofet" (1742) were twelve china 
plates, a delft pot and cover, and large and small china 
bowls. In 1744, a "Hall Bofet" contains a blue shagreen 
case with eight knives and eight forks with silver caps, and 
eight silver spoons; another case with six ivory-handled 
knives and forks with silver "ferrils"; and six other white- 
handled knives and forks, besides china and glass. 

The "beaufait" facing page 352 is from the house in 
Vernon Place, Boston. It was built in 1696 by William 
Clough, who sold the house and land to John Pulling in 
1698. The latter left it to his sister, Mrs. Richard Pitcher, 
who sold it to William Merchant, brother-in-law of Gov- 
ernor Hutchinson. It was purchased in 1758 by Caotain 
Fortescue Vernon and remained in his family for about 
seventy-five years. The "beaufait" is ornamented with 
cherubs' heads in the spandrils and the hollowed shell. A 
handsomer example of the shell appears in the "boufet" 
from the Barton homestead on page 354. This was made 

351 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

in 1750. It was presented to the Worcester Society of 
Antiquity, Worcester, Mass., by Mr. Bernard Barton in 
1894. 

The one represented on page 363 has the advantage 




" BOUFET " FROM THE BARTON HOMESTEAD, WORCESTER 
Made in 1750. Now owned by the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Worcester, Mass. See page 353. 

over the other in standing in the spot for which it was 
made. This is from the Whipple House, Ipswich, Mass. 
It is furnished with glass doors and is filled with valuable 
old china. 

The buffet from the Peabody House, Boxford, Mass., 

354 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

torn down in 1863, is now owned by Mr. Edwin N. Pea- 
body, in Salem. 

Though the rooms at the beginning of the century 
were generally heated with open tires, yet stoves sometimes 
appear in the inventories. These were generally of Dutch 
manufacture and were obtained from New York. In 1709, 
Joseph Bridgham has a large Dutch stove worth ten pounds. 
In 1712, Elisha Hopkins has one valued at ninety shillings. 
German stoves also were made by Christopher Sauer, of 
Germantown, and then came the Franklin stove. The 
economical advantage of coal as a fuel was being felt; and 
the papers announce the arrival of Newcastle coal with in- 
creasing frequency about 1740. "Cole grates" frequently 
appear in the inventories before that date: Samuel White's 
parlour is supplied with "a grate for coal, j{'6," in 

1736. 

New styles of grates were constantly being introduced, 
but the old andirons still existed side by side with them. 
In 1760, "a new imported and neatly polished coal grate" 
is advertised; and, in 1764, "a handsome china stove, suit- 
able for a gentleman's hall or any large room." The front 
of the hearth was frequently a marble slab, and the fire- 
place was often tiled in the Dutch fashion. In 1761, "a 
set of tiles for chimney " is advertised ; and Dutch chim- 
ney tile from three shillings a dozen, in 1772. The old 
portable braziers, or chafing-dishes, are still in use and va- 
rious kinds of "furnaces" are found. In 1739, a kitchen 
contains an old brass furnace of forty-three pounds weight, 
worth only three shillings ! New England was now man- 
ufacturing brass-ware of her own, and undoubtedly intro- 
duced new patterns in accordance with her progressive 
spirit in all handiwork. Jonathan Jackson was a brazier 

3SS 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

who died in 1736, and following his imported wares comes 
a list of " Goods of New England manufacture." It includes 
brass hand-basons, candlesticks and knockers, tools, pots, 
skillets, kettles, plates, saucers, spoons, stirrups, spurs, sta- 
ples, cast dogs, brass-headed dogs, wrought dogs, iron backs 
and warming-pans. The dogs' heads that had given their 
name to the object had given place to other designs. One of 
these we know was t\\Qjieur-de-lySy for Captain John Welland 
has a pair of " flower de luce dogs " in his hall chamber. 
The customary tongs, shovel and bellows (the latter fre- 
quently with a brass nose or spout) are supplemented with 
the poker on the advent of coal. William Clark has tongs 
and poker for his dining-room lire in 1742. About 1760, 
we find steel fire-irons coming in. They then seem to be 
more fashionable than those with brass handles. John 
Morley (1765) had two sets of steel andirons, shovel and 
tongs appraised at forty-five shillings, and four other sets, 
the most expensive of which amounted to six shillings. 
Lieutenant-Governor Andrew Oliver (1774) also had steel 
andirons, etc., in his best living-room ; in others, he had 
brass hearths, and dogs with brass tops. 

The mantel-piece is ornamented with glass and china 
images. Earthenware, " old things," images and cups and 
"mantel tree setts" are some of the ornaments recorded 
(see page 359). Thomas Down (1709) has furniture for 
two mantel shelves, £1 ; and Captain John Myles (171 i) 
two muslin mantel cloths. Varieties multiplied as the cen- 
tury advanced. Bronzes were scarce, but china, glass, 
earthenware and alabaster cups, vases and images were 
plentiful. Carved work is sometimes in evidence also. 
An entry in 1738 tells of a small carved image sitting in 
a chair ; and in 1 744, two wooden images cost twenty' 

3$« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

four shillings, which price implies more than rough carv- 
ing. Though the porcelain came from abroad, there was 
*\ certain amount of pottery made here by skilled immi- 
rants. In 1738, the will of a Boston potter named Cur- 
tice Champnoine is recorded. Some of the ornaments in 
use before the middle of the century are as follows : a large 
china woman, fifteen alabaster parrots, four china images, 
two line large china women, earthen goblets, two china 
men on horseback, two small china women, two china 
toads with men on their backs, two china cows with men, 
two china friars, two china pillars, two china foots, four 
alabaster images, delft flower pots, a figure and five busts. 
The busts most in favour were those of great statesmen and 
especially of military leaders ancient and modern, such as 
Julius CiEsar, Alexander the Great, Prince Eugene and the 
Duke of Marlborough. Shakespeare and Milton are also 
favourite subjects. 

Above the " mantle tree " thus adorned, was either a 
picture or a mirror. The chimney-picture was often to be 
found in the parlour. Among many instances, Henry 
Franklin owns "a picture for a chimney" in 1725. 
Another article used to decorate the space above the man- 
tel-piece in some rooms was that quaint piece of home- 
made art-work known as the sampler. It is evident that 
some of these were highly prized. One, at least, is worthy 
of advertisement, for, in 1757, the Boston Gazette announces 
that Samuel Smith, at his Vendue house on Coleman's 
Wharf, will sell a gorgeous bed complete, and a " chimney- 
piece imitating Adam and Eve in Paradise wrot with a 
needle after the best manner." 

We have seen that the ladies of other colonies beautified 
their homes with needlework which was highly prized, and 

3S7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

that the art of the needle was taught in New York by pro- 
fessional adepts {see page 308). It is not surprising to find 
similar advertisements in Boston. In 1755, the Boston 
Gazette announces that " Mrs. Hiller still continues to keep 
school in Hanover Street, a little below the Orange-Tree, 
where young Ladies may be taught Wax-work, Transpar- 
ent and Filligree, painting on glass, Quillwork and Feather- 
work, Japanning, Embroidering with silver and gold. Ten- 
stitch, likewise, the Royal Family to be seen in waxwork." 

In 1763, Jane Day also had a school in Williams Court, 
Boston, where she taught " all kinds of needle-work, em- 
broidery in gold and silver, all kinds of coloured work, 
Dresden, etc." In 1764, Nathaniel Oliver opened a school 
for boys near the Drawbridge, and Mrs. Oliver taught 
needlework. 

The productions of skilled fingers were highly valued ; 
as early as 171 2, Nathaniel Byfield, of Bristol, owned a 
piece of needlework wrought upon white satin, worth no 
less than jC^. 

The importance of the New England kitchen occurs 
from the fact that in many cases it was the living-room. 
It changed but little from that of the seventeenth century. 
Two views of the kitchen of the Concord Antiquarian 
Society facing page 315 and page 354 show the furniture 
and utensils common to almost every home. 

Early in the century, the mirror had a black or gilt 
frame. Sometimes the price reached a high figure, as the 
carving grew more elaborate. Towards the middle of the 
century, chimney-glasses with carved walnut or gilt frames 
ranging in value from thirty to eighty pounds are not 
uncommon. They were generally supplied with arms for 
candles. Nathaniel Cunningham (1748) owned one with 

358 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

a gilt-edged walnut frame, j^'120; another with walnut 
frame and brass arms, ;^37-io-o; and a third with a gilt 
frame. Some of the work was done by native carvers. A 
member of this profession was George Robinson, who left 
an estate of fifteen hundred pounds in 1737. His grand- 
daughter, Sarah Blowers, received a bequest of " my man- 
tletree sett of carved work and sconces." This was twenty 
years before Chippendale's publications could have influenced 
those engaged on this kind of carved work. 

One of the Boston carvers was a Mr. Burbeck. In the 
town records under date of January 13, 1768, we read: 

" Mr. Burbeck, who carves the capitals for Faneuil 
Hall, was sent for, when he engaged to get the carved work 
finished and put up before the latter end of next month " 
— he was at the same time told that he should have his 
pay out of the " money raised by the present lottery." 

The walls of the rooms were adorned in the best houses 
with paintings in carved, moulded and gilded frames. Black 
and japanned frames also were common. The ordinary 
homes and halls and stairways of the richer class contained 
more mezzotints than any other kind of pictures. The 
inventories rarely mention the subjects, but we gather them 
from the newspapers. In 1757 we read in the Boston 
Gazette : " Imported from London and to be sold by Na- 
thaniel Warner in Fish Street, a variety of new-fashioned 
looking-glasses and sconces, and also a variety of metzitinto 
Pictures painted on glass, double Frames, neatly carved and 
gilt, viz., the Royal P'amily, the Judges of England, the 
Months, the Seasons, the Elements, very handsome views 
and sea-pieces ; the Rakes and Harlot's Progress ; maps 
gold leaf." 

The more ornate picture frames were imported from 

3S9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATH'ERS 

London in most cases, because the work there could be 
done more cheaply than in Boston. Thus history ante- 
dates as well as repeats itself! In 1743, the Selectmen of 




MAHOGANY AND GILT MIRROR 
Owned by the Talcott family, now by Mrs. Wainwright, Hartford. See page 361. 



Boston wanted a frame for Smibert's portrait of Peter Fan- 
euil ; they therefore wrote December 7th to Christopher 
Kilby, Esq., to the following effect : 

** We find upon inquiry that a frame for said picture can 
be got in London cheaper and better than with us, we 

360 




JAPANNED CLOCK CLOCK 

Fmm the HaHCo<k House, Boston. OwneJ by Miss Ma J* by RicharJ MamHiHg, Ipsnviet, Mass. , in 
Lucy Gray Stuttt and preserved in the Museum ^7^7- No'w in the Essex hstitute, 

•f Fine Arts, Btstn, Mass. Sre page Jt76. Salem ^ Mass. S«epagej2J. 





MAHOGANY DUMBWAITER AND SQUARE TABLE 

Oivned by the Misses Burnett, Elm^vood, Cambridge , Mass. See page j62. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

therefore beg the favour of you, Sir, to procure and send a 
neat gold carved frame of eight feet in length and five feet 
in width by the first ship in as small a box as may be, as 
it will reduce the freight." They hoped it might be 
bought for about eight guineas. 

An exceedingly handsome mirror of the period is shown 
on page 360. It is of mahogany and is profusely orna- 
mented with gilt. This belongs to Mrs. Wainwright of 
Hartford, Conn., having descended to her through the Tal- 
cott family. 

Tables are still made principally of oak and black wal- 
nut ; very rarely do we find one of ash and chestnut. Ma- 
hogany tables are very scarce for many years. There are 
many estates from 1730 to 1740 of between two and eight 
thousand pounds in which none of mahogany are recorded. 
After 1750 they are plentiful. Marble tables of different 
sizes and colours are advertised in 1755; mahogany stand 
tables, 175H; marble table with mahogany frame, 1760 ; 
a neat mahogany bureau table, 1 76 1 ; and mahogany tables 
with claw feet, 1768. 

Four tables are shown facing page 318. One has al- 
ready been described on page 321. Of the four specimens 
the one in the upper left-hand corner is the handsomest. 
It was owned by Silas Deane, first minister from the United 
States to PVance. The top is a solid piece of mahogany, 
measuring 38 f^ inches in diameter. The edge is slightly 
raised. The acanthus is carved on the legs, which end in 
dog's feet clasping a ball. Washington, Lafayette, Rocham- 
beau and Heaumarchais are said to have taken tea upon it. 
This piece of furniture is in the rooms of the Connecticut 
Historical Society, Hartford. The table in the upper right- 
hand corner is also of mahogany, but is of smaller size 

361 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

than the one just described. It was in the wedding outfit 
of Lois Orne in 1770. This is now in the Essex Institute, 
Salem, Mass. The table in the lower left-hand corner is 
of painted wood and a piece of iron is under each of the 
three feet. This table belonged to Nathaniel Silsbee, of 
Salem, in the early part of the eighteenth century, and is 
now in possession of his descendant, Mrs. Edward C. Pick- 
ering, Observatory, Cambridge, Mass. Another table of 
mahogany with falling leaves appears on page 379. This 
belongs to Mrs. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn.; and a square 
table owned by the Misses Burnett, at Elmwood, Cambridge, 
faces page 368, with a dumb-waiter of mahogany, also 
owned by them. The latter frequently occurs in the in- 
ventories. 

The tea-table is present in every home that has any 
claim to comfort. In the early part of the century it is 
usually made of oak or walnut, and the japanned tea-table 
is very general until mahogany takes its place. This table 
was lower and smaller than the ordinary table, and it held 
nothing but the tea-service with which it was customary to 
keep it set. Tea-tables occur quite early. " The leaf of 
a tea-table " that was being made by William Howell in 
1 71 7 shows that at that date it had falling leaves. The 
style changed, for in i 736 John Waldo's tea-table, although 
worth twenty-five shillings, is described as old-fashioned. 
At that date japanned tea-tables are numerous and within 
the means of ordinary people. Fifteen shillings is enough 
for James Jackson's in 1735. The "tea-board and furni- 
ture " are nearly always mentioned in company. About 
the middle of the century the India tea-table is most fash- 
ionable. One of these belonging to Peter Cunningham 
(1748) is typical of the most fashionable equipment in 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

vogue. It was set with ten china cups and saucers and live 
handle-cups, a slop-basin and plate beneath, milk-pot, tea- 
pot and plate, and a boat for spoons. The silver spoons 
and sugar tongs are classed separately among the plate, and 
exclusive of these the value of this little table and tea- 




BUFFET 
From the Whipple House, Ipswich, Mass. See page 354. 



service amounted to the large sum of forty pounds. It will 
be noticed that ten of the cups had no handles and the live 
that had no saucers were therefore more like mugs in 
form. The tea in this instance was kept in " a shagreen 
tea-chest with silver canisters and sugar ditto, ^^loo." 
Mr. Cunningham, therefore, spared no expense on this 

363 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

important feature of contemporary social life, nor was he 
an exception ; a table and complete set of china from j[2^ 
up is quite a common item. The above articles were in 
the Great Parlour. In the Great Chamber up-stairs there 




RUSH-BOTTOM CORNKR CHAIR 
From the Goodhue family. Now owned by the Kssex Institute, Salem. See page 349. 

is a ** tea chest with brass silvered and three pewter canis- 
ters," besides a quantity of china, ornamental and useful. 
There is no tea-table with the service spread, because the 
guests were not entertained here, but a walnut breakfast 
table is noted, which shows that the first meal of the day 
was often taken in the sleeping apartments in wealthy 
homes. The frequent presence of vSo much china in the 
bedrooms of the period is thus accounted for. When ma- 

364 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

hogany prevailed, the tea-table sometimes attained much 
larger dimensions. Very small tea-tables were in use 
until long after the Revolution. 

Black chairs were in use for many years. It is strange 
to tind this sombre tint such a favourite until nearly the 
middle of the century. Henry Franklin (1725) possessed 
a high-priced black chest of drawers, a black table, twelve 
black bass-bottomed chairs, black stands, a black walnut 
escritoire and a looking-glass with a black frame. This 
room, however, was exceptionally funereal. Thomas 
Walker (1726) has a turned, black glass-case, a looking- 
glass in a black frame, and a black chest of drawers nailed. 

Black was usually confined to the chairs, several varie- 
ties of which were painted or stained that hue. Some of 
those recorded are black frames, black cane, six-backed 
black, black matted, black-frame stuffed and covered. 
Straw chairs were also common during this period; the prices 
show that some kinds belonged to the better class. James 
Jackson's eight open-back chairs with straw bottoms were 
worth seven shillings each in 1735. Other chairs recorded 
before 1 740 are carved-top. Hat-back, crook-back, straight- 
back, high-back and low-back leather, red leather, leather 
with banister backs, coloured cane, chairs of the same with 
the bed ; damask, slit-back, straight slat, and rush-bottom 
crooked backwards. All the kinds mentioned on page 
347 still persist, and cushions sometimes accompany those 
with rush or cane seats. Arthur Savage (j^'5,263 ; 1735) 
owned twelve cane and two elbow chairs, j[,20 ; and twelve 
silk cushions, j^'8 ; George Bethune (jC7f(>27 > ^73^) 
had an easy chair covered with red velvet and cushion, 
j[2o. When the wood is mentioned, it is most frequently 
walnut. In 1736, walnut chairs with leather bottoms arc 

365 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

appraised at thirty-iive, and with " stuff bottoms and calico 
cases " at twenty-five shillings each. Mahogany was not 
yet used by the Boston chair-makers. It is only just be- 
ginning to appear in the inventories. John Jekyl's front 
parlour contains a table of that wood, valued at ^3-10-0, 
in 1733. In 1735, Mary Walker has a dressing-box, 
worth only five shillings, japanned ; while ten pounds is 




DRESSING-TABLE 
From the collection of the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass., owned by Mr. Lemon. See page 368. 



the value of one belonging to Captain John Chernock, in 
1723. The term "case" of drawers seldom occurs in the 
early BovSton inventories, nor is any distinction drawn be- 
tween the high and low. However, the chest with draw- 
ers and the carved chests were now old-fashioned, and the 
new kinds stood on somewhat slender cabriole legs and were 
what are now called ** high-boys" and "low-boys." Cap- 
tain yohn Ventiman, 1724, owns a "chest of drawers and 
table thereto belonging, £\ ; " and George Campbell, 1735, 

366 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



has a "black walnut chest with 
drawers and table, ^15." The 
** table thereto belonging " seems 
to be the lower part of the so- 
called *• high-boy." More often 
the description of this piece of 
furniture is simply " chest of draw- 
ers and table." We have already 
had many instances of this. In 
1 709, it is called a " table case of 
drawers." 

The low case of drawers was 
generally used as a dressing-table, 
as some of the Boston entries dis- 
tinctly imply. In 1709, we find a 
dressing-table with drawers ; 
in 1732, Col. William Tailer 
has a table, dressing-glass and 
chest of drawers, £20 ; and 
in 1736, the Rev. Thomas 
Harward has a walnut dress- 
ing-table with drawers. They 
were made of mahogany, be- 
fore the latter date, for those 
who cared for that wood. A 
good example with its original 
dressing-glass, is sht)wn on 
page 331. This comes from 
the Warner House, Portsmouth, N. H., which was com- 
pleted in 1723. All of the furniture in this house was 
imported from England, and some of it at that date. 

Earlier and simpler styles are shown on pages 366 and 

J67 




CARVED AND GILT LOOKING-GLASS 
AND A DRESSING-TABLE 

Now in the ruoim of the Concord Antiquarian 
Society, Concord, Man. Sec page 36S. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

367. That on page 343, belonged to Governor Dudley and 
( 1 647-1 720) now owned by the Concord Antiquarian So- 
ciety, Concord, has the plain feet, cusped front and drop brass 
handles that were already a fashion before 1700, though 
the styles lasted till long afterwards in New England fur- 
niture of somewhat simpler form. 

Another, from the Collection of the Wayside Inn, ap- 
pears on page 366, and one from the Concord Antiquarian 
Society is shown on page 367. A case of drawers that 
answers more closely to the description faces page 384. 
It is owned by Dr. James Read Chadwick, Boston, Mass. 

Japanned ware is plentiful all through this period. Be- 
sides clocks and looking-glass frames, we have tea-tables, 
" chests of drawers and table," tables, corner tables, waiters 
and coffee-pots. Some of these reach high prices. Not 
only black, but blue japanned ware sometimes occurs in the 
inventories: in 1730 a blue japanned looking-glass costs 
three pounds. Oriental goods are exceedingly scarce in 
the homes: quite an exception is the presence of an India 
cabinet such as belongs to Edward Lyde in 1724. 

An example of a japanned looking-glass, owned by the 
Essex Institute, faces page 326. 

It was not only on the tea-table, buffet and mantel- 
shelf that china and glass were displayed. The dressing- 
table also had its full share of ornaments of this nature. 
Captain John Welland's hall chamber (1737) contained a 
handsome " black walnut case of drawers and table," and 
on it stood no fewer than fifty-five pieces of china. William 
Clarke's escritoire (1742) was even finer, and it was orna- 
mented with eight pounds* worth of china. When the 
escritoire was not surmounted by a bookcase, it was cus- 
tomary to ornament its flap top with busts, or china-ware. 

368 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



The escritoire or " scree- 
tore" (which has been already 
described on page 220) in- 
creases in ornamental import- 
ance as the years pass. It is 
made of all woods, and the 
styles are almost endless. Some 
of these announced in the 
newspapers are as follows : 
Screwtore, 1725; a beautiful 
mahogany desk and book- 
case, 1755; red cedar desk, 
1757; handsome maple desk, 
1758; fine scretore, 1759; 
mahogany bureau with a 
writing table, 1762; elegant 
bookcase with glass doors, 
1768. 

The term bureau, gener- 
ally spelt " buroe," appears in 
New England about 1720. 
A " bureau desk " is among 
the possessions of the deceased 
David Craigie in 1721. It 
was valued at seventy shillings. 
In 1739, a "buroe table" 

(eleven shillings) occurs; and another in 1751 ; a " buro 
table with drawers" costs fifteen pounds in 1747. 

The desk and bookcase shown above is of appletree and 
black walnut. It was owned by Governor John Wentworth 
and was in his home on Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, N. 
H., in 1767. When his effects were confiscated, it became 

369 




(KJVERNt)R JOHN WKN TWORTH S 
DESK AND BOOKCASE 

Owned by hu great-great-grandnephew, Mr. 
Charles E. Wentworth, Portnnouth, N. H. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the property of the Rev. Samuel Haven and remained in 
his home on Pleasant Street until 1897. ^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^ 
passed to his great-grandson, Mr. Alexander H. Ladd, who 
gave it to his daughter, Elizabeth, the wife of Mr. Charles 
E. Wentworth, the great-great-grandnephew of Governor 
John Wentworth. 

Another very handsome escritoire faces page 374. It 
belonged to Mr. Joseph Waters, of Salem, and is now in 
the home of his grandson, Mr. Charles R. Waters, Salem, 
Mass. This is of rich San Domingo mahogany and fur- 
nished with fine brasses. 

The chest of drawers became heavy and massive after 
the middle of the century and the larger pieces were in 
two parts, like the high cases of drawers. They were 
then called " chest-upon-chest." They often had orna- 
mental carved tops like the bookcases. Many varieties 
are advertised. It will be noticed that even when the 
lower part was a table with drawers, the distinction be- 
tween case and chest is not maintained. A few of these 
advertised read : " Very handsome new black walnut 
chest of drawers and table and beautiful mahogany case of 
drawers with an Ogier top and brassed off in the best 
manner," 1756; "a beautiful mahogany case of drawers 
with a compass top; " also a " manogany case of drawers 
with an O G top," 1757; a mahogany case of drawers 
with an arched head, 1759; a very neat black walnut 
case of drawers, 1759; a new fashion case of drawers, a 
neat mahogany case of drawers and chamber table and 
a large handsome mahogany case of drawers and table, 
1760. The great mahogany wardrobes were also being 
constructed now, for in the latter year a " large mahog- 
any clothes press with three draws " is advertised for sale, 

370 




Inlaid with satin wood. 



MAHOGANY LIQUOR CASE 
Oxned by Mr. IValur Uosnur^ H'ethersfield, Conn. See page 380. 




KZRA RliM.KVS WRII ING CHAIR 

Afterwards used by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and now owned by the Concord Antiquarian 

Society, Concord, Mass. See page 398. 




MAHOGANY BEDSTEAD 

With balL-and-claiu feet and old hangings. Owned by the Concord Antiquarian Society, 

Concord y Mass. See page j86. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

A very handsome mahogany chest-upon-chest is rep- 
resented on this page. There are nine drawers alto- 
gether, the top central one being ornamented with the 




MAHlKiANY CHESl-UPON-CHtsr OK DRAWERS 
Owned by Mrs. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. 

outspread fan. The brass escutcheons are very decorative. 
This piece belonged to the Talcott family and is now 
owned by Mrs Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. Another 
example of a chest-upon-chest occurs on page 397. 

371 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The first piece is of the same period as the beautiful 
desk shown facing page 340. The latter is of rich mahog- 
any very dark in colour and is furnished with handsome 
brass escutcheons. The desk has four drawers. 

Captain John Bonner, in 1722, published "The 
Town of Boston in New England, Engraven and Printed 
by Fra: Dewing and sold by Captain Bonner and William 
Price against ye Town House." On the margin of the 
plan was printed the following: "Streets, 42 ; Lanes, 36; 
Alleys, 22; Houses, near 3,000, 1,000 Brick, the rest 
Timber; near 12,000 people." 

This plan helped to adorn the walls of many an entry, 
and frequently appears in the inventories as " a prospect of 
the city of Boston." 

Neal, who published his history about 1720, says: 
"Their customs and manners are much the same with the 
English: Their grand festivals are the day of the annual 
election of magistrates at Boston, and the commencement 
at Cambridge, when business is pretty much laid aside, and 
the people are as cheerful among their friends as the Eng- 
lish are at Christmas. . . 

"In the concerns of civil life, as in their dress, tables, 
and conversation, they affect to be as much English as 
possible; there is no fashion in London but in three or 
four months is to be seen in Boston. In short, the only 
difference between an Old and New Englishman is his re- 
ligion." 

Turning now to a typical home, that of Col. Wil- 
liam Tailer (j^8,366-i9-c> ; 1732), we notice that the fur- 
niture in his Hall consists of 6 elbow chairs, a dozen cane 
elbow chairs, 9 old chairs, a walnut table, a small table, 
and a teaboard and furniture; two pairs of old-fashioned 

37a 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

andirons, tongs, and shovels show that there are two fires 
here; and there are a hammock, 6 maps, and a great deal 
of glaSvS, including 3 dozen wine glasses. 

In the Back Parlour there are 3 tables of old oak, one 
large and one small walnut, 8 old chairs and an old clock, 
a black looking-glass, 1 5 old pictures on the walls, and 
china, etc., in the closet. The Bedroom has in it a bed- 
stead, which, with its furniture, is only worth ^{'7-15-0; 
an old evscritoire worth ^^'3, two old looking-glasses, 6 
cane chairs and "6 new-fashion chairs," an easy chair, two 
bass bottom stools, another escritoire of walnut, also worth 
j[2'y ^^ ol^ carpet, and shovel, tongs and andirons. 

In the Best Chamber we see a table and dressing-glass 
and chest of drawers valued at ^^ 20. The 6 chairs are of 
damask and there is a joint-stool. Brass andirons, etc., and 
10 pictures add brightnevss. The Rubb'd Chamber has a 
bedstead with damask'd curtains and a feather bed upon it 
weighing a hundred pounds. There is a handsome cabi- 
net here worth j[j, and an oak table valued at i 3 shill- 
ings. A small looking-glass, a curtain for a field bed, 
worth ^3-10-0, 4 alabaster pieces, valued at j[2, and 16 
pictures complete the furniture of this room. 

About 1735, John Oldmixion remarks: "The Con- 
versation of the Town of Boston is as polite as most of the 
Cities and Towns of England ; many of their merchants 
having traded into Europe and those that stayed at home 
having the advantage of society with travelers. So that a 
gentleman from London would almost think himself at 
home in Boston when he observes the numbers of people, 
their houses, their furniture, their tables, their dress and 
conversation, which, perhaps, is as splendid and showy as 
that of the most considerable tradesman in London." 

373 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

At this period, the famous Hancock House on Beacon 
Hill was being built {1737), and until it was demolished a 
few years ago, it was the last of the great mansions stand- 
ing that could show what the stately homes of old Boston 
were like. This house was built by Thomas Hancock, 
son of the Rev. John Hancock, the kitchen of whose 
house, now owned by the Lexington Historical Society, is 
shown facing page 155, and a bedroom facing page 358. 

Mr. Hancock's idea was to beautify his home without 
as well as within, and accordingly he sent to London for 
choice fruit trees, " dwarf trees and Espaliers, two or three 
dozen yew trees, hollys and jessamin," vines, seeds and 
tulip roots, which, however, did not thrive in the cold, 
bleak winds of Boston. In 1737, he sent for " 380 squares 
of best London crown glass, all Cutt Exactly 18 Inches 
long and 1 1 Inches wide of a Suitable Thickness to the 
Largeness of the Glass, free from Blisters and by all means 
be careful it don't wind or worp; 100 Squares Ditto, 12 
Inches Long, 8^ wide of the Same Goodness as above." 
"On January 23, 1737—8, we find him writing from 
Boston to Mr. John Rowe, Stationer, London, as follows: 

" Sir, Inclosed you have the Dimensions of a Room for 
a Shaded Hanging to be Done after the Same Pattern I 
have sent per Capt. Tanner who will Deliver it to you. 
It's for my own House and Intreat the favour of you to Get 
it Done for me to Come Early in the Spring, or as Soon as 
the nature of the Thing will admitt. The pattern is all 
was Left of a Room Lately Come over here, and it takes 
much in ye Town and will be the only paper-hanging for 
Sale here wh. am of opinion may Answer well. There- 
fore desire you by all means to get mine well Done and 
as Cheap as Possible, and if they can make it more Beau- 

374 



L-. 




MAHOGANY SF.CRKI AKV AM) IUX)KCASI. 
ff'ith original brasses. In the house of Mr. Charles R. ff^aters, Salem, Mass. See page 370. 




JAMES BOWDOIN'S DESK 

OnuneJ by the American Antiquarian Society y Worcester, Mats. See page j88. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tifull by adding more Birds flying here and there, with 
Some Landskips at the Bottom, Should like it well. Let 
the Ground be the Same Colour of the Pattern. At the 
Top and Bottom was a narrow Border of about 2 Inches 
wide wh. would have to mine. About 3 or 4 Years ago 
my friend Francis Wilks, Esq., had a hanging Done in the 
Same manner but much handsomer Sent over here from 
Mr. Sam Waldon of this place, made by one Dunbar in 
Aldermanbury, where no doubt he, or some of his suc- 
cessors may be found. In the other parts of these Hang- 
ings are Great Variety of Different Sorts of Birds, Peacocks, 
Macoys, Squirril, Monkys, Fruit and Flowers, etc. But 
a Greater Variety in the above mentioned of Mr. Waldon 's 
and Should be fond of having mine done by the Same 
hand if to be mett with. I design if this pleases me to 
have two Rooms more done for myself. I Think they 
are handsomer and Better than Painted hangings Done in 
Oyle, so I Beg your particular Care in procuring this for 
me, and that the patterns may be Taken Care ofl^ and Re- 
turn'd with my Goods." 

He is still adding to his decorations in 1740, for on 
March 22, he writes : 

" I pray the favour of you to Enquire what a pr. of 
Capitolls will cost me to be Carved in London, of the 
Corinthian Order, i6»^ inches one Way and 9 y* Other, — 
and to be well Done." 

Mr. Hancock was one of those wealthy and fashionable 
citizens who was not satisfied with the ordinary articles 
made here, or even imported for general sale. He is con- 
stantly writing for furniture and table ware. For example, 
he orders, " i Box Double P'lint (Jlass ware, 6 (^lart De- 
canters, 6 Pint do., 2 doz. handsome new fash** wine 

S75 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Glasses, 6 pair Beakers, Sorted, all plain, 2 pr. pint Cans, 
2 pr. yi pint do., 6 Beer Glasses, 1 2 Water Glasses, and 2 
Doz. Jelly Glasses." 

On December 20, 1738, he sends to Mr. Wilks this 
order, which is of especial interest to us, inasmuch as the 
clock in question appears facing page 360 : 

" I Desire the favour of you to procure for me and Send 
with my Spring Goods a Handsome Chiming Clock of the 
newest fashion, — the work neat & good, with a Good Wal- 
nutt Tree Case Veneer'd work, with Dark lively branches, 
— on the Top insteed of Balls, let there be three handsome 
Carv'd figures. Gilt with burnished Gold. I'd have the 
Case without the figures to be 10 foot long, the price 
not to Exceed 20 Guineas, & as it's for my own use, I beg 
your particular Care in buying of it at the Cheapest Rate. 
I'm advised to apply to one Mr. Marmaduke Storr at the 
foot of Lond" Bridge, — but as you are best Judge I leave 
it to you to purchase it where you think proper." 

The handsome clock facing page 360 was, in all prob- 
ability, the one selected, for upon its dial the maker's name 
reads: " Marm** Storrford of London Bridge." The case, 
however, is japanned. This clock was purchased from 
the Hancock house in 1793, by the wife of the Honoura- 
ble William Gray, of Boston, and is now owned by Miss 
Lucy Gray Swett, of Boston. It is preserved in the Mu- 
seum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

Mr. Hancock lived in the home he had built and fur- 
nished with so much pleasure until his death in 1764, 
when his nephew, John, became its proprietor. A portrait 
of the latter by John Singleton Copley hung over the 
mantelpiece in the dining-room, i 7x25 feet, that was deco- 
rated with moulded panels ; and portraits of Thomas Han- 

376 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

cock and his wife, Lydia, by the same painter, also were 
upon the walls. In one of the large wings was a line ball- 
room. 

A sideboard belonging to the above John Hancock is 
shown on this page. This piece is now in the rooms of 
the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass. Its 
date is considerably later then this period. 

Another handsome home was that belonging to Edward 




MAHOGANY SIDEBOARD 
Owned by John Hancock, now bv thr American Antiijuarian Society, Worcester, Man. 

Bromrteld, a prominent merchant of Boston, According 
to an authority, the Bromrield House, built in 1722, "was 
of three stories, and richly furnished according to the fashion 
of the last century. There were large mirrors in carved 
mahogany frames with gilt mouldings ; and one apartment 
was hung with tapestry representing a stag hunt. Three 
steep riights of stone steps ascended from Beacon Street to 
the front of the mansion ; and behind it was a paved court- 
yard above which rose successive terraces filled with flow- 
ers and fruit trees." 

377 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

And still another famous mansion was that belonging 
to the celebrated Sir Charles Henry Frankland, famous for 
his romance with Agnes Surriage. His Boston house " was 
built of brick, three stories high and contained in all 
twenty-six rooms. A spacious hall ran through the centre, 
from which arose a flight of stairs so broad and easy of 
ascent that Frankland used to ride his pony up and down 
with ease and safety. The parlours were ornamented with 
fluted columns, elaborately carved, and richly gilded pilas- 
ters and cornices; the walls were wainscotted and the 
panels embellished with beautiful landscape scenery; the 
mantelpieces were of Italian marble and the fireplaces of 
the finest porcelain, which exhibited views of singular ex- 
cellence. The floor of the eastern parlours was laid in 
diamond-shaped figures, and had in the centre a unique and 
curious tessellated design, consisting, it is said, of more than 
three hundred kinds of wood, as mahogany, ebony, satin- 
wood, etc., encircling the coat of arms of the Clarke 
family." 

Mrs. Mary Blair died in 1738 with a personalty of 
^^28, 232-1 5-10. Her furniture is elegant and costly. 
Her Front Lower Room is evidently warmed by two fires, 
for there are two pairs of dogs, one of brass, the other 
small with brass heads ; the windows are shaded with 
** blinders," and at night the candles, held in two pairs of 
elegant sconces and in an old-fashioned standing candle- 
stick, furnish light. There are twelve cane chairs valued 
at two pounds each, with an expensive couch and squab to 
match, an oval walnut table, a small tea table, and a clock 
and case worth ^^40. In the ** bofett " she has quite a 
collection of china. (Seepage 353.) 

In the Middle Room, we find three tables, oval, 

378 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

smaller oak oval, and small mahogany ; there are twelve 
red leather chairs and a "two armed chair;" a looking- 
glass ; a pair of small gilt sconces, a ** scrutore for decan- 
ters," a "smaller do., with handles," glass candlesticks, and 
much china. 

Five maps hang in the " outer entry," while in the 
" inner entry " we find a glass lantern, three pictures in 




TABLE WITH FALLING LEAVES 
Owned by Mn. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn. See page 36a. 

gilt frames, nine large maps, and a pair of leather huckets. 

There are four bedrooms. In one is a green silk bed 
with satin quilt, feather bed and sacking-bottom bedstead, 
valued at ^^'120; a handsome looking-glass; a dressing- 
table ; ten cane chairs and two elbow cane chairs ; and brass 
hearthware. 

" A clouded stuff bed " with chintz quilt lined with 
silk, cotton counterpane, feather bed, two pillows, bolster 
and sacking-bottom bedstead, stands in the " Middle Cham- 

S79 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ber." A chest of drawers with twenty-three pieces of 
china upon it, a table and dressing-box, seven cane, two 
leather, two broken and two armed chairs, constitute the 
other furniture. There are brass andirons, etc., ten pictures 
in gilt frames, and two portraits of Prince George and 
Queen Anne in gilt frames. 

Two laced beds are in the Front Upper Chamber, which 
also contains a large Holland tea-table, a chest of drawers, 
twelve old Turkey-work and four cane chairs, four pictures, 
a looking-glass, and a pair of large blankets. 

In the upper Chamber over the shop, there are a bed- 
stead and bed, a chest of drawers, a Holland table, an old 
trunk, five other trunks, one of which is sealskin, a second 
bedstead with sacking-bottom, a looking-glass and thirty- 
nine dozen bottles. 

A tea-table, two folding-boards, and two bass-bottom 
chairs are in the kitchen. The shop is filled with dry-goods, 
and Mrs. Blair owns plate valued at ^'432-15-7^ . 

Cases with bottles, numbering from six to a dozen, oc- 
cur very often in the inventories. A handsome liquor case 
of mahogany, inlaid with satinwood, faces page 370. It 
is equipped with crystal bottles. This belongs to Mr. 
Walter Hosmer, Wetherslield, Conn. 

When Peter Faneuil succeeded to his uncle's fortune 
in 1738 and became lord of the sumptuous house on Bea- 
con and Somerset Streets, Boston, he sent almost immedi- 
ately to Lane and Smithurst, of London, for "a handsome 
chariot with two sets of harness with the arms as enclosed 
on the same in the handsomest manner." 

The wealthy Boston merchant writes for glass and 
china and orders "silver spoons and forks with three 
prongs"; these he wants engraved with the Faneuil arms, 

380 



THK Fl'RNITURK OF OUR FORFFATHRRS 

and says: "Let them be very neat and handsome." He 
also sends for candlesticks, which he wishes " very neatly 
made and by the best workmen ; let my arms be engraved 
on each of them and let them be sent me by my brother; " 
and in order to insure the size of the candlestick, he sends 
a piece of wax candle as a sample. Another piece of silver 
that he orders is a punch bowl "to hold from six quarts 
to two gallons and made after the newest fashion with the 
family crest on it." 

** Six lignum-vitae chocolate cups lined with silver " is 
another order sent to London. At his death these were 
valued at ^{'3. 

Lane and Smithurst soon have another demand, this 
time for ** a copper warming-pan and half a dozen largest 
and best white blankets for the best chamber, with pud- 
ding pans for the kitchen ;" and for use in the latter he 
sends for " the latest best book of the several sorts of cook- 
ery, which pray let be of the largest character for the ben- 
efit of the maids' reading." 

His tablecloths and napkins are made especially for him 
by John Cossart & Sons of France. 

The following letter addressed to John Caswell shows 
that P'aneuil occasionally studied economy even if he was 
anxious to keep up with the latest European fashions. He 
writes : *• This asks the favour of you when you arrive in Lon- 
don to dispose of a dozen silver knife and fork handles of 
mine, wch. you have therewith, for my best advantage and 
procure for me a shogreen case with a dozen of new knives 
and forks of a handsome silver handle and the best blades 
you can get made in London, for my own use, with room 
in the case for a dozen of spoons, the same size and fashion 
with one sent also by you for a pattern. Pray let the case 

381 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

be the same with that Mr. Baker sent me lined with a red 
velvet, wch. stands in my dining room. As for the blades 
of the old knives, I shall be glad to have them made into 
Oyster Knives, wch. may be easily done, being shortened 
and ground down." 

The furniture of Mr. Faneuil's house was of the most 
expensive description. One room contained a table at 
twenty, and twelve carved veneered chairs and a couch at 
one hundred and five pounds. A large pier-glass with 
candle-brackets and a chimney glass with the same came 
to more than ^'i 50. The floor was covered with a large 
Turkey carpet and the hearth was garnished with fine brass 
dogs, tongs, shovels and bellows. 

The next room was furnished with twelve plain wal- 
nut-frame, leather-bottom chairs ; a mahogany and a mar- 
ble table; an eight-day walnut-case clock; a copper tea- 
table, eight cups and saucers, teapot stand, bowl and sugar 
dish; three alabaster stands with bowls ; about j[200 worth 
of Delft ware, china and glass; a chimney-glass, a glass 
sconce with arms and seven others smaller ; and brass 
hearth furnishings. On the walls were "four mezzotinto 
pieces and one other sort, a prospect of Boston, two land- 
skips on copper and the Temple of Solomon." 

In the entry were twelve fire buckets and a large lan- 
tern. 

The hall, staircase and other apartments were adorned 
with about two hundred and fifty pictures, the only sub- 
jects mentioned being Alexander's Battles and Erasmus. 

Mr. Faneuil's bedroom contained a bedstead with 
feather bed and mattress, and two green silk quilts. The 
bed-curtains as well as the window-curtains were of green 
harrateen. Between the windows was a pier-glass ; and a 

382 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

chimney glass and three elaborate sconces with arms gave 
light and brilliance to the apartment. A Turkey carpet was 
on the rioor, and brass dogs and fire irons garnished the 
hearth. A bureau-table, twelve chairs and a couch, and a 
dressing-glass and drawers rendered the room thoroughly 




MAHOGANY BEDSTEAD WITH GILT ORNAMENTS 
In the houte of Mr. Charies R. Waten, Salem, Mas&. See page ^86. 



comfortable. The owner's toilet-set comprised a case with 
six razors, strop and hone, a pair of scissors, penknife, two 
bottles and a looking-glass, all silver-mounted. His shav- 
ing bason of silver weighed 275^ oz. and was worth 
/40-16-0. 

Yellow was the prevailing hue of another bedroom. 
There was a yellow mohair bed with counterpane and cur- 
ias 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

tains, six chairs, one great chair, two stools, window-cush- 
ions and curtains all of the same material. The other fur- 
niture consisted of a fine desk and bookcase with glass 
doors, dressing-table and glass, chimney-glass and sconces 
and brass hearthware. 

A third bedchamber contained a mahogany bedstead 
with worked fustian curtains lined with green damask, a 
Turkey-work and a small leather carpet, six cane chairs 
and two armchairs, a chamber table, Dutch press (evidently 
a kas)^ English walnut desk, chimney glass, sconce with 
arms and brass andirons and fire irons. 

A mahogany field-bed with chintz curtains and china 
window curtains ; a mahogany bedstead with blue harra- 
teen bed and window-curtains and silk and purple silk 
quilts, and a red harrateen bed with material sufficient to 
complete the window-curtains furnished other rooms in 
which we also find a Greek screen, marble oval octagon 
table, twenty-four cane chairs, clothes press, couch, 
sconces, Turkey-work and other carpets, painted canvas 
for floors of rooms and entry, and brass chimney-ware in 
every room. The household linen, some of which as we 
have seen was made in France, was worth ;^32o; books, 
^loo; and copper and pewter utensils, ^^i 8i. In the 
counting-house was a clock, two nests or cases for papers 
and one for books, a large writing-desk, two leaden stan- 
dishes, six leather chairs, a small looking-glass, an iron 
cover for the fire and the usual andirons. He also owned 
**a parcel of Jewells," valued at j^i 490-10, and 1400 oz. 
of plate amounting to ^'2122-10. When he died in 1742; 
his estate was valued at j^'44,45 i-i 5-7. 

The handsome house, the interior of which we have 
just described, was a solid square structure, standing in a 

384 




H 6 









■^ 

e 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




CHAIR USED BY JOHN ADAMS 

Now in the collection of the Waynde Inn, Sudbury, Mass., owned by Mr. Letnoil. 

See page 386. 

garden ot seven acres. This was known as the "Eden of 
Beauty," where were cultivated hothouse flowers and tropi- 
cal fruits and vSome simple and sweet old-fashioned garden 
flowers imported from France by Andrew Faneuil to 
awaken memories of his early home. 

Mr. Faneuil's beds were particularly handsome, but it 

385 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

was not uncommon to find ornate beds in the homes of 
the wealthy. On page 383 is represented a highly decora- 
tive bedstead, of mahogany, the tester of which is elabo- 
rately carved and decorated with gilt. . This is in the home 
of Mr. Charles R. Waters, Salem, Mass. Another ma- 
hogany bedstead, with ball-and-claw feet, faces page 372. 
This is owned by the Concord Antiquarian Society, and 'u 
furnished with old brown hangings in the style of tapestry. 

It is singular to find John Adams taking interest in 
house decorations, yet he notes in his Diary (1766) : 

** Dined at Mr. Nick Boylston's — an elegant dinner 
indeed. Went over the house to view his furniture, which 
alone cost a thousand pounds sterling. A seat it is for a 
nobleman, a prince. The Turkey carpets, the painted 
hangings, the rich beds with crimson damask curtains and 
counterpanes, the beautiful chimney clock, the spacious 
garden, are the most magnificent of anything I have ever 
seen." 

A chair that belonged to John Adams appears on page 
385. It is of a style derived from the past century and 
was probably originally covered with cane. This is owned 
by Mr. Lemon, at the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass. 

Still stranger is it to find his kinsman ambitious to have 
a handsome home. Again John Adams writes in his 
Diary ( 1772) : 

** Spent this evening with Mr. Samuel Adams at his 
house. Had much conversation about the state of affairs. 
Cushing, Phillips, Hancock, Hawley, Gerry, Hutchinson, 
Sewall, (^incy, etc. Adams was more cool, genteel and 
agreeable than common ; concealed and retained his pas- 
sions, etc. He affects to despise riches, and not to dread 
poverty; but no man is more ambitious of entertaining his 

386 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

friends handsomely, or of making a decent, an elegant ap- 
pearance than he. He has lately new-covered and glazed 
his house, and painted it very neatly, and has new papered, 
painted, and furnished his rooms ; so that you visit at a 
very genteel house, and are very politely received and enter- 
tained." 

Nathaniel Rogers, of Boston (1770), with an estate of 
^^3,730- 1 7- 1 I , has a typical and comfortable home. Each 
of the five principal rooms contains an abundance of ma- 
hogany. Upon the rfoor of the East Front Room is a large 
carpet. Before the fire, burning upon a pair of princess 
metal andirons, is a two-leaf fire-screen. There are a large 
mahogany square table (;^3),two great mahogany chairs, 
twenty-four shillings each, and " twelve mahogany Marlboro 
chairs" (j^'io-16-0); upon a small square mahogany table 
(j^i-io-o) stands a tea-kettle and lamp, and among the 
miscellaneous articles was a painted sugar-cannistcr. 

In the West Front Room there was a sofa covered with 
black horsehair and two squabs worth £S ; eight ma- 
hogany chairs with crimson damask bottoms worth ^ii- 
4-0, a lolling chair lined with leather, a Turkey floor 
cloth, a mahogany case of drawers valued at ^^4-1 0-0; a 
square four-foot mahogany table, a round mahogany tea- 
table, a mahogany stand, a pair "prince metal" andirons, 
steel shovel, tongs, and chimney hooks, a looking-glass 
with gilt frame, three pictures under glass, and the two 
blue and white window curtains. There was a great deal 
of glass and china in this room, including a valuable set of 
enamelled china; and there were four cases of knives and 
forks and spoons, three being of shagreen and one of ma- 
hogany. 

The four-povSt bedstead, with calico curtains, stands in 

3«7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the West Front Chamber, besides which is a "bedside 
carpet; " an old carpet lies also on the floor. There are 
six mahogany chairs with hair bottoms (;^6), an easy 
chair and case, a dressing-glass, a chest of drawers, a black 
walnut desk, and a chest of drawers of the same wood. 
The curtains at the windows matched those of the bed. 
Andirons and a small picture completed the furniture of 
this room. 

A four-post mahogany bed and a crimson moreen bed 
are found in the East Front Chamber. Four copper-plate 
window curtains soften the light ; a small carpet lies on the 
floor, and another at the entry to the chamber. The rest 
of the furniture consists of a " buro table," a wash-stand, a 
dressing-glass, six chairs and a close stool with two arms — 
all of mahogany. 

The bedstead in the Back Chamber is green. The 
furniture here is somewhat simpler than in the other rooms. 
The five chairs have straw bottoms; the case of drawers 
is of pine. There are a small painted pine table, a wicker 
basket and two carpets. 

A four-post bedstead is the chief piece in the Upper 
Chamber. The Study contains two hundred and eighty- 
three volumes. There is a book-case here, a small painted 
chcvSt, a table, a picture painted on board, four small pictures 
and a map, and a great deal of linen and wearing apparel is 
kept in this room. 

The desk that faces page 376 belonged to James Bow- 
doin. Governor of Massachusetts in 1785—86. It is simple 
and must have originally been furnished with brass handles. 
Upon the flap that lets down is a sharply pointed inlaid 
star. This piece is owned by the American Antiquarian 
Society, Worcester, Mass. 

388 



' THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Card-playing was largely indulged in ; even the Boston 
clergy did not despise it. The Rev. Thomas Harward 
has an early mahogany card-table in 1736. James 
Jackson has one of the same wood a year earlier. They 
must have varied greatly in workmanship, for in 1733 John 
Jekyl has one card-table at twelve shillings, and another of 
black walnut at j[^6. The latter costs more than twice as 
much as either of the mahogany ones above mentioned. 
They were generally square, but sometimes round and tri- 
angular. In 1722, Peter Cutler's shop goods include a 
round card-table, thirteen shillings. A handsome mahog- 
any card-table with rive legs, belonging to Mrs. John 
Marshall Holcombe, Hartford, Conn., faces page 384. 
A similar specimen appears on page 309. Cards fre- 
quently occur in the inventories. Fifty dozen packs be- 
longed to James Lyndell in 1720. A shilling a pack was 
the price. They also appear frequently among the ad- 
vertised importations. 

We have seen that music was somewhat cultivated in 
New England during the seventeenth century. The oc- 
casional advertisements of instruments offered at public 
vendue and special advertisements show that they were 
constantly imported. For instance, Gilbert Deblois at the 
Crown and Comb, Queen Street, Boston, has some '* good 
violins, English and German flutes, bows, bridges, pins, and 
best Roman violin strings, with setts for violoncello " 
( 1756). In 1757 " a beautiful sett of virginals " is oflrered 
for sale, and in the next year, " a mOvSt curious neat cham- 
ber organ in a mahogany case and frame on castors, pipes 
gilt, with two additional barrels." In 1772 **a neat desk 
chamber organ " is to be sold *• cheap at Mr. McLane's, 
Watchmaker, on the North side of the Town House." 

389 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

** A six-string bass viol for a girl with its case " is adver- 
tised in Boston ,in 1 764, together with " hautboys and reeds, 
hddles, a tenor violin, fiddle bows, bridges, strings and 
music-books." Harpsichords frequently appear, showing 
that the virginals were giving place to the forerunner of 
the pianoforte. A harpsichord made by Samuel Blyth of 
Salem faces page 386. In this instrument each key is 
set in motion by two wire strings. It is now in the Essex 
Institute, Salem. 

Joiners, turners, carvers, upholsterers, varnishers, clock- 
makers and cabinet-makers existed in considerable num- 
bers in Boston, and, if carpenters and housewrights are al- 
so taken into account, we have a list of some local crafts- 
men to whose labours a great deal of furniture owed its 
origin. Most of these were men of small estate, and, at 
their death, little was found in their shops either in rough 
timber or cabinet-ware. A partial chronological list of 
joiners includes Samuel Chough, 1 707 ; Thomas Liver- 
more, 1 710; Jacob Fernside, 171 6; John Cunnabel, 1724 ; 
Thomas Webb, 1728; Peter Gibbons, 1729; Daniel Bal- 
lard, 1741 ; John Stevens, 1745; Edward Wild, 1750; 
Ebenezer Clough, 1751 ; and John Adams, 1758. Then 
we have Edward Budd, 1710, and George Robinson, 
1737, carvers; Matthias Smith, turner, 171 4; William 
Howell, 1 71 7, and John Pimm, 1773, cabinetmakers; 
Benjamin Davis, 171 8, and George Burrill, 1721, chair- 
makers; Thomas Bodeley, clockmaker, 1720; Joseph 
Hill, varnisher, 1723 ; William Downe, 1753, and Joseph 
Gale, 1744, upholsterers. 

The close scrutiny kept upon new arrivals by the town 
authorities was still maintained. In 171 7, Joshua Tucker, 
a turner, and Samuel GifFord, a London upholsterer, ar- 

390 




six-lk(.c;kd high cask of drawkrs 

From the IFhippU Iloujf, Ipswich^ Mass. See page 343. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

rived from England : they were both warned tt) depart. 
In 1739, James Murphy, a mariner and joiner, arrived 
from Newfoundland ; and, about the same date, Theophilus 
Shove received permission to open a shop. On January 2, 
1744, "James Atkinson, watchmaker from London, ap- 
peared and desired to open a shop in this town which is 
here granted, he having brought with him upwards of 
j^'500 sterling and being a gentleman of a good character." 
Character and means were, therefore, the qualitications 
for admission. 

By far the majority of joiners and cabinet-makers kept 
no stock in trade ; theirs was all bespoke work. Even 
the rich shopkeepers rarely had any cabinet-ware in stock. 
Abraham Francis, who died in 1720, worth ^^2,658-1 2-0, 
may be selected as a fair example. His warehouse con- 
tained no furniture for sale, except two new chests of draw- 
ers valued at ;^ i 5. 

William Howell was capable of doing the finer kinds 
of cabinet work, but his estate amounted to no more than 
^^73-5- 10, and the only evidence of work among his pos- 
sessions consisted of walnut veneer, ^^8-18-7; a leaf of a 
tea-table, £o-j-6 \ a clock and head-case, ;^ 17-6-3; and 
twelve pillars for a chest of drawers, ^^'0-9-0. An entry 
in Samuel Sewall's diary reads; "August 3, 1714. John 
Cunable takes measure for a window in my wive's Bed- 
chamber to the North-east, because of so many buildings 
darkening us to the South-west. August 4th, Howell, the 
Cabinet-maker, takes down the closet that stands in the 
corner to make way for the window." We have already 
seen that the joiners and cabinet-makers of the day were 
also glaziers, and the above extract shows that labour was 
not specialized in these various branches. 

39« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The native joiners were evidently still making furni- 
ture with the old black applied ornaments and black knob- 
handles. Howell's "twelve pillars" were probably of this 
nature, and in that case their relatively high price warrants 
the supposition that they may have been of ebony. It is 
plain that the use of brass, instead of black wood for relief 
and contrast of colour, was not the rule yet in the ordinary 
home, since that metal often receives special mention when 
it occurs. Thus, in 171 o, the appraiser notes a " chest of 
drawers with brasses, ^4-10-0," belonging to Elisha Webb 
of Charlestown. 

The widow of Sir William Phipps married Peter Ser- 
geant, Esq., who died in 1714. The latter seems to have 
been engaged in some branch of this business. His per- 
sonalty included fifty red cedar boards, 3,290 feet of dia- 
mond-cut glass, 600 feet squares, a large beam and an ebony 
post. The latter was valued at ten shillings, and its pres- 
ence shows that it was possible to use real ebony in the 
applied ornaments and inlays of the old styles of furniture 
that the new had not yet entirely supplanted. 

The corner chair, painted white with mat bottom, 
shown on page 393 and belonging to the Worcester So- 
ciety of Antiquity, was originally the property of Benjamin 
Vassal, and may have been made by him, for he was a 
cabinet-maker by trade. He was born in 1742 and died 
in 1828. At the beginning of the Revolution, he took up 
arms and served in the American army until the close of 
the war. He became first lieutenant. In 1780 he lived 
in Charlton, and in i 8 1 7 in Oxford, Mass. It is thought 
that he was a native of Scituate, Mass. 

During the first half of the century, it will have been 
noticed that the set of cane or other chairs in the dining- 

39* 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

room or parlour is nearly always accompanied by the ** couch 
and squab." The settee also assumes prominence with the 
advent of mahogany. Fine examples of the latter will be 
reproduced in the Chippendale chapter. A quaint settee 
with openwork back in the Chinese taste, of native make. 




CORNER CHAIR 

Madr by Benjamin Va<uU. Now owned by the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Worcester, Mass. 
See p»je 591. 

is given on page 394. It was originally in the Brattle 
Street Church, Boston, and is now owned by the Massa- 
chusetts Historical Society, Boston. 

The chairs made by the native chair-makers were prin- 
cipally of the cheaper kinds. The only material owned by 
George Burrill (1721) was about seven pounds' worth of 
" timber and Hags." 

393 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Peter Gibbon (1729) has a ** chest of drawers not fin- 
ished " in his shop, but nothing else. Edward Weld's shop 
(1751 ) contained only two boxes, a writing-desk, two bed- 
steads, a frame of a table and a frame of a case of drawers. 
These totalled only sixteen shillings in all. In the shop 
chamber there was some walnut and pine timber, and 




SETTEE FROM THE BRATTLE STREET CHURCH, BOSTON 
Now owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Boston. See page 393. 

some refuse boards. Daniel Ballard (1741), whose estate 
amounted to nearly ^1,500, had a large stock of upholst- 
ery goods worth ^^3^0, and almost ^^ 100 worth of boards, 
mouldings, panels, etc., but no cabinet work finished or in 
course of construction. 

The upholsterers sometimes had chairs, sofas and beds 
for sale. Thomas Baxter's stock (i 751) included various 
stuffs used for coverings, webbing, bed-ticks, couch-bot- 

394 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

toms, suits of curtains, braid and binding, tassels and fringe, 
blankets, counterpanes and coverlids. One suit of harra- 
teen curtains came to jf 42 ; ^25 is also set down to wood- 
work for a bed. This is so far above the average price of 
bedsteads that this one must have been richly carved. As 
a rule, about ninety per cent, of thc'cost of a bed is due to 




CHERRY CHK.sT OF DRAWERS 
Owned by Thompson S. Grant, Eskj., Enfield, Conn. See page 337. 

the feather bedding and hangings and coverings. Twenty- 
nine chairs, worth ^"Ho-io-o, are also among Mr. Baxter's 
goods. These again are unusually expensive. 

Black walnut was the favourite wood for chair frames 
until quite late in our period, and mahogany never entirely 
supplanted it. The carved frames of all the new designs 
as they arose were executed in this timber and they were 
upholstered with almost an infinite variety of materials. 

395 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The walnut frames were more frequently seated with 
leather and tine cane than with anything else all through 
this period. Walnut backs with rush bottoms occur, and 
these are by no means cheap. The Turkey-work chair 
lasts till surprisingly late. 

The above kinds were all made by native workers. 




CORNKR CHAIR OWNED BY DANIEL BLISS (1756) AND TWO CHAIRS MADE BY 

JOSEPH HOSMER (CABINET-M AKERs) 

Owned by the Concord Antiquarian Society, Concord. See page 398. 



Although no mahogany furniture appears in the shops of 
any of the above named makers, we know that they used 
that wood to some extent. Among other evidence on this 
point is an advertisement in 1 74 1 that a parcel of mahog- 
any planks is to be sold by Nathaniel Cunningham at 
Belcher's Wharf; and Robert Stidman's goods (1751) in- 
clude 859 feet of mahogany. This was valued at the high 
figure of five shillings and sixpence per foot. Such sales 
were frequent in New York at this period (see page 285). 

396 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




MAPLE CHEST-U PON-CHEST OF DRAWERS 

From the Bannister family} now owned by the Newburyport Historical Society, Newburyport, Mass. 
See page 398. 



About that date, maple begins to be employed much 
more frequently in native work than hitherto. Some of 
the maple furniture recorded between 1 740 and i 770 com- 
prises tables, bedsteads, desks and bookcases, round chairs, 
chest of drawers and table, round tea-table, couch, and 
chairs with Hag and leather bottoms. Generally the maple 
furniture is cheaper than the black walnut, but sometimes 

397 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

carving rendered it expensive. In 1749, one set of six 
chairs with flag bottoms amounts to twelve pounds. In 
1762, nine with rush bottoms cost only a shilling each. 
Cherry is quite scarce ; in 1 749 Mr. Nathaniel Martyn 
owns a desk of that wood that is appraised at fifteen 
pounds. Birch is occasionally met with. Six black birch 
chairs come to eight pounds in 1751. 

A chest-upon-chest of maple appears on page 397. 
The bottom chest has a swell front, and the legs are slightly 
bombe. This piece belonged to the Bannister family and 
is now in the rooms of the Newburyport Historical Soci- 
ety. It is probably of native workmanship, as is the six- 
legged case of drawers facing page 390. 

It is somewhat remarkable that none of the native 
makers whose names we have cited should have advertised 
in the papers as their brethren in New York did. The 
furniture that is advertised either comes under the hammer 
at the decease or departure of the owner, or else has lately 
been imported. The importations after 1750 largely in- 
creased. In October, 1767, at a public meeting in Faneuil 
Hall, it was declared that "the excessive use of Foreign 
Superfluities is the chief cause of the distressed state of this 
town;" means were to be taken to lessen the use of a list 
of imports including household furniture, clocks and 
watches. 

Two chairs made by a native cabinet-maker, Joseph 
Hosmer, are represented on page 396 with a corner chair 
that belonged to Daniel Bliss (1756), These two rush- 
bottom chairs differ greatly in the shape and ornamentation 
of their backs. Another chair, a Windsor, of the kind 
called ** comb back," facing page 370 was made in all 
probability by a local workman. It was used by Ezra 

398 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Ripley as a writing-chair and subsequently by Nathaniel 
Hawthorne. All four of these specimens are owned by 
the Concord Antiquarian Society, Concord. 

Besides the best timber, all the mounts and fittings 
necessary for the production of the most fashionable cabinet- 
ware of the day were on sale in the shops of the native bra- 
ziers. One of the latter was Jonathan Jackson, who left an 
estate of more than eight thousand pounds sterling in 1736. 
Besides desk and chest hinges and locks, his supplies for 
local cabinet-makers included one hundred and twenty- 
three dozen drops that varied in cost from eight and a half 
to thirteen and a half pence per dozen. The brass escut- 
cheons that accompanied them varied from nine to twenty- 
three pence per dozen. There were also twenty dozen 
brass handles from twenty-seven to thirty-four pence per 
dozen. The handles thus cost twice as much as the drops. 
Among this brazier's native wares, it is noticeable that 
there are no brass furniture fittings. The prices are given 
in sterling money which, at that date, was six times the 
value of old tenor. Mr. Jackson's widow, Mary, and 
son, William, kept on the business. In 1756, they live 
at the Brazen Head, in Cornhill, and advertise the fol- 
lowing importations from London and Bristol : ** All sorts 
of hardware, door locks and hinges, desk and bookcase 
furniture, viz., handles and escutcheons of various sorts, 
desk and bookcase locks, desk buttons, clock case hinges, 
furniture for tea chests, brass and iron table ketches, 
London glue, brass and iron desk hinges." 

Two years later, Edward Jackson, another member of 
the family, also a brazier, died worth nearlv six thousand 
pounds. Included in his stock were neat polished brass 
handles at three shillings, and suitable escutcheons at eighteen 

399 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

pence per dozen ; about one-hundred-and-seventy thousand 
Rosehead nails for chairs ; eighty-four dozen solid drops 
and half as many escutcheons ; other brass handles and 
" bright '* and brass desk hinges. The brazier's trade 
seems to have been very profitable, for we find another 
widow, Mrs. Sarah Dolbear, who carried on her hus- 
band's business, and died worth j^30,ooo. The shop con- 
tained hollow brass ring drops, and solid drops with 
wires ; brass escutcheons, common brass handles (worth 
slightly more than the sold drop) ; complete sets of desk 
and bookcase furnishings ; iron desk locks and hinges ; and 
brass chair nails with long shanks, at four shillings per 
thousand. Some of the desk and bookcase mounts cost ten 
shillings, and others £i per set. From this we gather 
that the old " drops " were being supplanted in public 
favour by handles of new designs, and that the conventional 
Tudor rose, that has been such a favourite decorative feature 
in the old carved oak, was now repeated in brass along the 
edges of the chair seats. 




THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR ^^if 

FORE3FATHERS 




CARVED EBONY CABINET 
O^uned by Mrs. Caleb T. Smith, Smithtown, L. I. See page 416. 



J^?i^ 



.'-^> 



THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CRITICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF .PLATES 
By RUSSELL STURGlS 



ILLUSTRATED 



::s::s:sr::s:::s:2 



t^::M3 PART VI i:^:>3 c 

g>x3cxx:x:^:5g:g::2:^:g:::^:^::^:^::^::^::saa 




GARDEN CITY NEV YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
19 13 





COPYRIGHT, 1901, BY 

BOUBLEDAY, PAGE & CO. 

OCTOBER, 1901 



CONTENTS 

PACt 

BOULLE AND HiS FuRNITURE . . . 403-408 

Cardinal Mazarin's sumptuous furniture, 403-4; precious 
metals and gilded wood, 404; the Gobelin Manufactory, 404— 
5; characteristics of Boulle, 405-6; " old Boulle " and "new 
Boulle," 406-7 ; examples, 408. 



Transitional Periods of Style 



. 408—409 



Famous Designers ..... 410—414 

Philibert de I'Orme, Mathurin Jousse, Jean Berain, Jean Le 
Pautre, Daniel Marot and Sir Christopher Wren, 410—12; be- 
ginnings of the china-mania, 412 ; Sir William Kent, 412-14. 

Introduction of Oriential Goods into Europe 

4 1 4-4 1 6 

The Use of Porcelain in Decoration . 416-419 

Brackets and chimney-pieces, 416-17 ; Marot's great use of 
china, 417; room described by Addison, 418 ; Defoe on China, 
419. 

The Chinese Fad ..... 419—420 

Sir William Chambers, 419; early publications of Chinese de- 
signs, 420. 

The Gothic Revival .... 421-425 

John Evelyn on Gothic art, 421 ; gardens with Gothic ruins 
and shell-work, 421-22; Batty Langley, '^^re, Mrs. Delany 
and Horace Walpole, 422-5. 

Batty Langlev on Cabinet-Maker* 425-428 



CONTENTS 



French Design under the Regent and Louis XV. 

428-432 

Use of Chinese motives, 428 ; Cochin's satire, 429— 31; art 
during the Regency, 431 ; rora/"///?, 43 1 ; decorative ornaments, 

431-^- 

Chippendale ...... 432-450 

Chippendale a generic name, 432; Chippendale's book, 433; 
life of Chippendale, 433-4; Sheraton on Chippendale, Ince 
and Mayhew, and Heppelwhite, 435—7 ; George Smith on 
cabinet-makers and Chippendale, 437—8; Matthias Darly, 
441-2; Chippendale's preface, 442— 3; favourite designs, 444; 
Chippendale, the carver, gilder and decorator, 445—8 ; indebt- 
edness to Meissonier, 449—50. 

Carving and Carvers .... 450—452 

Chippendale Furniture .... 452—464 

Difference between "Chippendale furniture " and the designs 
in his book, 452-4; Chinese and Gothic designs, 455; chairs, 
456; examples, 458—64. 

The Adam Brothers .... 464—469 

The Adam style, 465; Adam ornaments, 465—6; Adam de- 
signs, 467-8 ; the Adam style in America, 468-9. 

Heppelwhite ...... 469—476 

Heppelwhite on English furniture, 469-70; characteristics of 
Heppelwhite, 471-2; examples, 472; the Heppelwhite side- 
board, 473-6; decline of Heppelwhite, 476. 

Sheraton . . . . . . 476-484 

Obituary of Sheraton, 476-7 ;Sheraton's book, 477-8 ; charac- 
teristics, 478; typical drawing-room, 478-80 ; dining-parlour, 
480; Sheraton on the dome, 481 ; beds and sofas, 482; work- 
tables and chairs, 482-4. 







List of Illustrations 



WITH CRITICAL NOTESON MANY OF 
THE PLATES BY RUSSELL STURGIS 



ALL THE NOTU rUBNISHED BY MR. 8TUBGII 
ABB rOLLOWED BY HIS SIGNATURE. 



Frontispiece: Carved Ebony Cabinet facing 

This massive piece of carved ebony was brought from China and is part of a magnificent col- 
lection of Chinese furniture that was got together by Mr. Caleb T. Smith during his resi- 
dence at Canton from 1850 to 1870. Every piece came firom the house of some man- 
darin of high rank. The present piece belonged to one Houqua. The other pieces 
comprise a large round centre table, two sofas, two armchairs, six high-back chairs, two 
high stands with antique bronzes, two low stands and various other ardcies. When the 
owner wanted certain repairs made upon arrival, he was told by experienced American cabinet- 
makers that there were no instruments manufactured of fine enough steel and temper here to 
work such wood, which is like stone. The form of this piece of furniture is curiously in- 
teresting in that it generically resembles the dressoin and livery cupboards of the seven- 
teenth century. The china dispbyed upon the shelves is of the very choicest varieties, 
and was brought in at the same dme. E. S. 

BouLLE Table ..... facing 

Boulle table, the inlay of tortoise-shell and of brass or a metallic alloy resembling German 
silver, and a richly coloured stained veneer of wood. The elaborateness of the veneering 
is completed by very rich gilded bronze appliques, those at the heads of the four legs being 
of peculiar richness. It is probable that an examination of these pieces would show the 
(tamp of some well-known worker in bronze of the reign of Louis XIV. R. Sturgis. 

Boulle Secretary and Cabinet . facing 

Wriring-desk with cabinet above, of which, however, the uppermost member is missing. 
This elaborate piece of furniture is inlaid in the style of that Boulle work with tortoise- 
shell and metal which makes one of the glories of the reign of Louis XIV. The work 
before us b of a date difficult to fix as the appliques seem to be hardly o( the same date as 
the very beautiful and delicate KroUwork of the inbys. R. Sturgis. 



Ill 



Boulle Cabinet 



Cabinet with richly carved open stand, the body containing ten small drawers and a central 
cabinet opening with doors, and a gallery of unusual height and prominence. This piece 
b in many ways unusual in design, for, although the separate parts are fimiliar, their com- 
birution b surprising and yet agreeably so, for the general proportions are extremely good. 
There b no Boulle work properly so-called in the piece bcfbrv us, but the rounded table- 
like masMS which adorn the fronts of the drawers and the panels of the doors would be in- 
suflinable in polbhed wi)ud, while in the delicate translucent and richly veined material, tor- 
tobe-shell, they are in a sense attractive and form a useful centre for the ebborate sculpture 
around them. The colonnettes are sheathed with a veneer of tortoise-shell. The ebborate 
carving in light materul, and the rippled pattern of the mouldings which form the frame 



403 



406 



FACING 407 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACK 

enclosing each panel, whether forming the firont of the drawer or the surface of the door, 
are of earlier date than this use of tortoise-shell would suggest. There is something about 
the general design also which suggests a seventeenth-century piece In fact, if this chest 
of drawers and cupboards dates from a time later than the reign of Louis XIV. (171 5) it 
is assuredly the work of a cabinet-maker with strong traditional tendencies and one who 
longed to retain the designs of his boyhood. In a piece less elaborate and costly the student 
would be inclined to note the probability of its having been made somewhere in the pro- 
vinces, far away from Paris ; for it is well known that the style of design and of carving 
would be retained long in the south in Brittany or in Burgundy after it had changed seri- 
ously at the centre. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Chair ...... 409 

Mahogany chair of which the back has a single broad slat pierced in suggestion of scroll- 
work with just so much reference to the broken and interrupted scrolls of the rococo style 
as would be attractive in an epoch which had not yet forgotten the illogical brilliancy of 
that class of work. The rococo was pretty nearly abandoned in France as early as 1760, 
but it might easily have lingered in England, from whence this chair was undoubtedly 
brought, twenty-five years longer ; it is therefore not remarkable to see these lingering 
traces of its passage. The front legs are of perfectly well-managed curves with claw-and- 
ball feet. It is interesting to see the great added weight and solidity given to the wood 
where it is most elaborately cut away into supposedly graceful shapes. R. Sturgis. 

Chair ........ 413 

This chair is to be compared with the one shown on page 409 as being almost precisely 
similar in the character of its back, while the front legs are as square and plain as the others 
were elaborate. Moreover, there is reason for square and solid legs ; there are stretching- 
pieces which connect the four legs with one another and make the whole piece very solid. 
It is easy to see that the demand for as obviously durable and massive a piece as this would 
be contemporary with the demand for the more graceful and finished type shown in the 
former example. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Chairs . . . . . -414 

Two chairs, in the form of which the two different types shown on pages 409 and 413, 
are reproduced. 

It will be understood that in all these chairs the seat is separate ; usually a plank with a 
stuffed cushion secured to it, the plank forming the under side of the cushion. A some- 
what later arrangement is the substitution for the solid panel of an open frame with strips 
of webbing carried from side to side. This, when introduced, was found to give the cush- 
ion greater softness and to produce a more agreeable seat. 

In all these inserted cushions there is a certain air of fitness, the soft prt of the chair 
obviously separate from the frame and easily movable. It is, in taste and propriety, a fash- 
ion superior to that in which the cushion is nailed &st to the outside of the frame. R. 
Sturgis. 

Carved Ebony Chairs and Table . facing 416 

These pieces come from the same collection as that on the frontispiece. The form of the 
chairs is very much like some of those of the Ciueen Anne period and shows the origin of 
the models of that date. The magnificently carved ball-and-claw foot table is as ornate as 
any similar pattern of the Chippendale school. The chairs are stuffed and covered with 
dark blue satin with woven Oriental figure and landscape subjects in various colours. E S. 

Mahogany Chairs . . . . . -417 

Two mahogany armchairs, the style of which is closely in accordance with that of the 
chair page 409 and one of the two page 414. The intelligence of the designs which wc 
associate with Chippendale and his immediate successors in English furniture-making is 
hardly to be appreciated until one notes the perfect fitness of those designs to the enlarged 
form required by an armchair. It is hard to say whether the smaller or the larger piece 
of furniture is the more effective ; and yet the design cannot be said to have undergone not- 
able modification. R. Sturgis. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAOt 

Mahogany Chair ...... 420 

A chair of the ame epoch as the pieces represented on previous pages, but nnodified by 
pierced patterns in the stretching-pieces which are made of thin boards for the purpose of 
receiving this kind of ornamentation. The same patterns are reproduced in mere sinkings 
in the front legs. The design of the piece is not improved by these ornaments. It b an 
experience constantly recurring in the examination of styles of art — the attempts of work- 
men to escape from the uniformity of design observed in the more important works of the 
tinte. Once in j thousand instances the innovation succeeds, and a new style succeeds to 
the old one after existing fur a while contemporaneously with it. R. Sturgis. 

Chippendalk Chair ...... 423 

Chair in which the forms given on page 413 and (age 420 are repeated with but slight 
alteration while, however, the prominent surfaces of the woodwork are covered with the 
most delicate Kulpture in low relief. The front of the chair, legs and rail, is so beautifully 
wrought, with such good taste as well as ingenuity, that one cannot but regret that the 
eighteenth century seldom attempted such refined Kulpture in buildinp or in furniture of 
greater size and pretension. R. Sturgis. 

Skt of Lacc^er Tables and Carved Ebony 

Chair ..... facing 417 

These pieces belong to the same collection as that in the firontispiece and those facing page 
416. The form of the chair with cabriole legs, claw feet and carved heads terminating 
the arms is one that frequently occurs in English furniture of the eighteenth century. It 
is upholstered in crimson satin. On the lacquer tables is a large bowl of the rarest porce- 
lain along the rim of which is a border divided into symmetrical lengths, each containing a 
different picture. E. S. 

Mahogany Chairs ...... 427 

Chair and armchair of ntahogany forming part of the same set, though the coverings of 
the seat are now different. What was said above in connecrion with the cut on page 417 
applies with force to these two pieces. The endre fitness of the design to both forms is 
especially worthy of note. R. Sturgis. 

Armchair and Two Sheraton Chairs . . 429 

Armchair which in all respects resembles those shown in previous illustrations of this Part. 
Two chain of different patterns and of somewhat later date than the pieces found on the 
pages above. The designs resemble those shown in Sheraton's " drawing-book," which 
b indeed of a later date than.the Chippendale contributions to decorative art. R. Sturgu. 

"Chinese" Settee .... facing 430 

This handsome settee is an excellent example of the " Chinese " style of Chippendale work 
which a fully diKussed in the text. The frame is of mahogany, handsomely carved, and 
the seat is cane, in accordance with Chippendale's instructioru. Probably this was orig- 
iiully intended for a summer-house, the suggestions of umbrellas in the top and temple 
bells in the hanging ornaments occurring often in the furniture designed for garden pavil- 
ions, etc. There are several armchairs of identical design belonging to this set. E. S. 

Chippendale Bookcase and Secretary . facing 431 

Library bookcase, the lower part containing fifteen drawers, in addition to the usual writing- 
desk with dropping shelf and the fittings of the scrutoir ; while the upper part has the usual 
dbtribution of glass doors with light wooden sash-bars. It is probable that the upper part, 
if not the lower, is separable into three pieces for convenience of transportation, and un- 
doubtedly the whole uppermost member — the cornice, as we call it in recent times— can 
be removed, as it is nothing but a simulacrum, represenring no essential part of the piece 
of furniture. Thu piece of about 1810, though with certain minor details which suggest 
an earlier time, is most attracrive for its simplicity, the general grace of \a proportions, and 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGl 

the evident air of being a thoroughly workmanlike and most useful piece of furniture for 
the library. The more precious or more delicately bound books even of a large collection 
would find room behind those glass doors, and the small prints, the notes and documents 
even of a busy literary student might find room in these numerous drawers. R. Sturgis. 

Chippendale Chair and Heppelwhite Card- 
Table . . . ... .433 

Round table of most successful and admirable design, a gem of simplicity and refinement. 
The inlays in light-coloured wood are almost characteristic of Heppelwhite. The chairs 
shown on pages 413 and 423 appeal |>erhaps more strongly to the sense of admiration for 
stately designs than the prr:ent one — they may be thought more fit for a splendidly-furnished 
drawing-room. There b :n the nature of the design nothing to put this one into a place 
of inferiority. R. Sturgis. 

Settee ...... facing 434 

Double-chair of carved walnut, a piece to be compared with that in the lower part of the 
Pbte opposite page 448 ; in connection with which there is given some statement of the 
different meanings of the word settee often applied to such pieces as this. In the present 
case the carving is of unusual interest. It is rare that mascarons are introduced into work 
of this epoch (about 1780), and still more rare that the end of a member should be carved 
into an elaborate head, as seen in the arms of the present sofa. These dragon-heads are 
cvidendy studied from Oriental, probably Chinese, originals, but the heads from which the 
mascarons of the sofa legs were taken were of European character, however remote and 
impossible to trace may be their primal origin. The forms of this piece are those of the 
famous Chippendale, but the carving is, to say the least, unusual in work of his, and it 
seems not impossible that an American joiner with Chipp>endale's book before him should 
have produced such a piece. R. Sturgis. 

Chippendale and Sheraton Chairs . . . 435 

The two central chairs are of Chippendale design ; the one to the extreme right is a Sher- 
aton with the lyre-shaped open panel ; the chair to the extreme left belongs to the early 
nineteenth century. These are sufficiently described in the text. E. S. 

Writing-Cabinet and Two Tables . facing 435 

Small case of drawers with writing-desk decorated with carving and with the original brass 
handles. This piece of the closing years of the eighteenth century is somewhat unusual in 
its small size and in the curious repetition on a small scale of the parts of a two-bodied piece 
— a chest upon chest or bahut a deux corps. The whole piece stands but little higher 
than the modem writing-desk, and yet, in the small space allowed there are three drawers, 
of which the lowermost is raised above the floor by the whole height of the supporting 
feet. 

The two stands with deep tops are interesting as unusually rich examples of the table 
with rim. The square table has this raised rim so pierced and of such comparative height 
that although it is not vertical, not at right angles with the top, it may with propriety be 
called a gallery. Th'is, of course, has been added to the top, and fitted on with careful 
dowelling and glue. The other stand has the rim worked out of the solid precisely in the 
same way that the carving in the middle has been done, the whole top being either a single 
piece of wood, or else built up by the setting edge to edge of different pieces of plank made 
one by the well-known arts of the joiner. The tripod stands and pedestab are very beau- 
tifully designed and prettily carved. R. Sturgb, 

Double Corner Chair ..... 439 

Elaborate comer chair so designed that it presents an equally decorative aspect on every side; 
unusual in thb and still more unusual in having the secondary or upper back, which may per- 
haps be an after thought or perhaps a special provision made for one who desired support 
for the head. The complicated form has not been mastered by the designer. Its essential 
clumsiness has not been overcome ; but the beauty of the workmanship, and the delicacy 
of the design shown in the turned uprights and stretching-pieces and in the carefully 
modelled and carved legs, give thb armchair a high pbce as a piece of decorative art. 
R. Sturgb. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

rAGt 

Mahogany Table and Tea-Kettle Stands 

FACING 440 

Two mahogany pedestal tables, and a stand with " gallery " enclosing the top. All three 
of these pieces are of the pedestal type, the upright pillar being supported by a tripod of 
three gracefvilly shaped legs. The beauty and the long continued permanence of this type 
of support b commented on in connection with the illustrations of Part V. The designers 
of the time, having this enbrely satisfactory principle to go upon, were never tired of work- 
ing out the possible varieties of form and carved detail. Thus, the table on -the left de- 
pends entirely on turning for the decoration of the pedestal, and the three legs are cut out 
of thin board and are simply rounded at top and bottom ; the outlines remabiing, however, 
eitremely graceful and appropriate j while the stand with a little pierced railing around 
the top has the pedestal ebboratcly rtuted above and reeded in spiral form below, with the 
three legs carved with a graceful adaptation of acanthus leafage. The larger table in the 
middk has a carved coat-of-arms which, however, lacks the crest. R. Sturgis. 

Chair ........ 444 

A chair of bter design than those shown on pages 409, 41 3 et uq. As mere matter of 
composition, this is in no respect an advance upon the earlier pieces, but there is an in- 
creased delicacy in the parts of the back, partly real and resulting from their slendemess, 
and partly apparent, coming firom their very delicate moulding. The plain square legs are 
moulded and the mouldings cue across into little pyramids like medizval dog-teeth, an at- 
tractive treatment when more elaborate carving cannot be had. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Chair ...... 447 

This chair b one of a set that w;u probably made about the middle of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. It may have been nude by a Charleston cabinet-maker ; it b almost identical with 
another chair on page 148, which also comes from Charleston. Thb piece b upholstered 
with dark red leather fixed with brass studs. £. S. 

Chippendale Stands . . . facing 441 

Three pieces ascribed to Chippendale, namely, tall stand with open " gallery " around the 
top and pierced and carved uprights ; low stand with raised moulded edge worked in the 
solid j and closed case possibly for keeping music. Such pieces as the taller of these stands 
were often called candle-stands ; that eighteenth-century term curiously repeating the pro- 
per and original sense of the Latin word candelabrum ; for those who have studied in mod- 
em museums will remember the ponderous and richly carved marble pieces five feet high, 
as well as the slender bronze uprights of the same or even greater altitude, which were used 
simply to support the feeble lamps of the Ronun Imperial time. The small fiame of a 
candle or lamp b doubled in efiicacy by being set rather high in a place, where the unceiled 
%vaUs and the low ceiling receive and reflect the full force of its illuminarion. Such a stand 
as the present, about three feet six inches high, would serve rather as a piece to hold the 
light by which one would wbh to read, fur a candle set upon it would be at the right 
height for a seated reader. The low stand, perhaps two feet in height, ba piece useful in 
a thousand ways. In connection with the plates of Part V, there a comment on the 
tripod fleet and the solid moulded edge* of such pieces. R. Sturgis. 

Settee ...... facing 441 

Double-chair sofa of Chippendale style, with an unusual amount of Kulpture added. Such 
pieces were called at the time simply "double chain," and if the term settee was also ap- 
plied to them, that word was used equally for other very different pieces, or parts of pieces. 
Thus ( and thb b an interesting point ) the word settee was used for the small three-cor- 
nered teats worked into the tv/o ends of very long sofiu, such as were made for the great 
tali/is of France, and sometimes imitated in England. These pieces were like a sofa to 
which two comer chairs had been added, one at each of the two ends, the whole worked 
into one deugn which was sometimes very spirited and successfil; and the whole was then 
called, in England, a sofa with settees. The present writer has heard the name applied in old 
country houses to the settles set upon rockers — pieces like a rocking-chair made for two or 
three occupants. Out-of-door garden seats long enough for two, and settles <^ the true 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

antique fireside paRern, are called by that name. In fiict, anything which can be used for 
sitting upon and which is not a chair in the ordinary sense of the word, may, it appears, 
be called a settee. 

The present piece is unusual in that while the forms are rather simple, there is an un- 
usual amount of naturalistic carving worked upon the front fiice of each bar or separate 
piece which goes to make up the back. R. Sturgis. 

Mirrors ...... facing 450 

These mirrors are of various dates, ranging from early in the century till the close of the 
Chippendale period. The top one on the right, showing the bird at the top, is a good ex- 
ample of the spikiness of the characterbtic Chippendale carving. The rest arc compara- 
tively simple in design and workmanship, and were to be found in homes that were not 
necessarily luxurious. £. S. 

Screen, Table and Chair . . . . .451 

The screen is a beautifully embroidered floral design, and is an excellent specimen of the 
more elaborate needlework done by the ladies of the eighteenth century. It should be 
compared with the screen, worked in 1776, shown on page 311. The claw-and-ball 
tripod table is a common form of the middle of the century, and the chair b one of the 
more graceful models designed by Heppelwhite. It is stuffed, and covered with crimson 
damask. This is the chair that Heppelwhite designates as " cabriole." £. S. 

Field-Bed ........ 454 

Four-post bedstead with low and slender posts carrying the skeleton of an elaborate canopy 
or ciel. The idea is that as the posts are short, the tester shall be arched up high in the 
middle. This piece as compared with the massive and rich four-posters of Part V is curi- 
ous in this, that the posts of the head-board are of precisely the same design as those of 
the foot, except that the latter have a single passage of reeding in the most prominent part. 
R. Sturgis. 

Bookcase and Secretary . . . facing 451 

Bookcase and scrutoir with drawers below, the glass of the doors lined with some textile 
material, the bookcase so much less deep than the lower part of the case that a broad shelf 
is provided in front of the bookcase doors. The writing-shelf is the inside of the dropping 
front cover which, when closed, completes the design of the piece. The suggestion of 
Gothic window tracery in the form of the sash bars seems to imply an epoch of about i8zo, 
although in Sheraton's dated designs of i8iz some approach to it may be found. In Eng- 
land, where the practice of what was thought to be Gothic art has never been abandoned 
altogether, such a way of treating the slender bars of glazed sash may have occurred to the 
designer at almost any time. R. Sturgis. 

Chairs . . . . . . . . 457 

Chair and armchair of the type characteristic of drawing-room furniture in the time of 
George III. and George" IV. The suggestion of the form is evidently classical, taken from 
the Greco-Roman forms studied by the French artists of the First Empire. Indeed, the 
forms of these English chairs are closely akin to those in use within Napoleon's sphere of 
influence. The design has in it a certain grave respectability appropriate enough to the 
rooms of English citizens of the wealthier class at a time when decorative art was at the 
very lowest ebb which it has ever reached in western Europe since the revival of art in the 
tenth century. R. Sturgis. 

Inlaid Sideboard .... facing 458 

Small sideboard with three knife-c:ues. This sideboard is of very unusual character in 
that it is arranged as if for travel or for easy removal from place to place. That which ap- 
pears in the picture as the back of the sideboard and supports four shelves, each having a 
bracket to support it, is in reality the hinged cover which on occasion can be shut down upon 
the box below. The shelves are all adjustable themselves to the raised upper part or cover 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FAGE 

and are hinged as are their brackets, these last having spring hoUcrs which keep them in 
place when they are once opened. The side shelves drop like the leaves of a Pembroke 
table and are supported, when raised, by sliding strips which disappear in the body of the 
piece. The whole thing is inlaid with delicate woods much in the style of Heppelwhite, 
but with more use of floral ornament than is usual with him. 

The knife-cases are of unusually elaborate design, this richness of aspect being caused 
mainly by the very finely wrought ntetal mountings. There are three delicate little feet to 
each piece and the attachment of these to the body, the striking pbtes of the drop handles 
on the sides and of the sloping top, and most of all, the Kutcheon and hasp piece of the 
lock are remarkable pieces of delicate work. One looks in vain among these rich and fan- 
tastic scrolls for a cipher or even a single initial. All is abstract and made without refer- 
ence to any particular owner — something unusual i» pieces of such varied beauty. R. 
Sturgis. 

Mahogany Chair . . . . . .461 

Chair with legs and cross bars as plain as any that we have to do with in this study, but 
with a back elaborately wrought as if in further development of the style adopted in the chairs 
shown on pages 409, 41 3, and elsewhere. The design of the present chair may be thought 
even more constnicrional than those in that it is more obviously nude of slender bars 
wrought into shape instead of a broad pierced slat. R. Sturgis. 

Adam Chairs ....... 463 

Chairs and armchair, the two pieces on the left and in the middle having much the same 
Imperial character as those on page 4^7. R. Sturgis. 

Heppelwhite Chair ..... 465 

Chair which should be compared with that on page 461. There is the same desire to 
obtain curved forms in the back, and to give the combination of these a shape which re- 
minds one of the outline of a shield. The medieval pointed ti u has always been attrac- 
tiv; to modems, and wherever an excuse offers to bring it in, as in the scutcheon of a key- 
hole, the flat plate of a sconce, or as here, the mere bounding outline of a series of bars, it 
b seized upon eagerly and retained entire. The legs of this chair are prettily inlaid with 
light-coloured wood. R. Sturgis. 

Hkppelwhite Sofa .... facing 459 

Sofa of about 1 780, with no woodwork showing except the legs. Such pieces as this, 
which are the precursora of our modem stuffed and tufted furniture, of horsehair and 
springs, were not themselves so very luxurious. They were comparatively hard, and, how- 
ever well stuffed were the seat, back and arms, they hardly invited to such reposeful atti- 
tiides as the nineteenth-century pieces which correspond to them. On the other hand, 
they were far more comely in the room, agreeing much better with the architectural lines, 
retaining a certain severity and dignity, and avoiding the appearance which our modem 
comfortable furniture almost inevitably has, of being an accidental cushion thrown down 
here or there, and not belonging to the apartment which it b supposed to complete. There 
b also in the old pieces a far better opportunity to show a finely designed piece of stuff, and 
in the present case that opportunity b seised. A very beautiful nuterial with a Hower 
pattern alternated by stripes, the whole somewhat formal and exact but of singular beauty 
of composition, completes thb piece in a way that few recent furniture coverings would 
make possible. R. Sturgb. 

Heppelwhite Chairs ...... 467 

Two chain whose forms are ckxely in agreement with those on pages 461 and 46;. An- 
other step in the gradually increased elaboration of these pieces b shown in the shaping of 
projecting bases, as it were, to the front legs. Thb b an enrirely appropriate and fitting 
termination of such uprights. The only doubt about its propriety b in the comparative 
plainness which the workmen uf the period agreed in giving to the lep of their chairs. It 
seeais to be thought, and certainly not without reason, that these should be made so as to 
mnct the eye less than other parts of the piece. R. Sturgb. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PACK 

Heppelwhite Sideboard . . . kacin(; 470 

Sideboard of about I 800, and probably the work of one of the famous English makers, 
although probably the handles of the drawer are not of the same epoch. There is very 
beaud^l inlay of light wood ort dark in the style of that introduced by Heppelwhite dur- 
ing the last years of the eighteenth century. 

There are three knife-cases standing on this sideboard, all of about the same date 
with it. 

It is a curious instance of the intelligence of design shown by these later eighteenth-cen- 
tury artists in furniture that their pieces look well with, and also without, the almost inev- 
itable accessories. A sideboard of this date with its perfectly flat top is evidently made to 
receive the spoon-bowls, knife-cases, lamps, branched candlesticks and punch bowls which 
belong to it, and yet the piece is not felt to be naked and incomplete without them, how- 
ever well it may look when they are set upon it. R. Sturgis. 

Sofa ......... 472 

Covered sofa closely agreeing in design and character with that which is shown in the plate 
opposite page 466. Here also in each of these two sofas the thickening of the legs at the 
bottom, as if to make a little base, is noticeable. In this case the fluting of the legs gives 
an additional fitness to the little bases as affording a natural means of stopping the flutes and 
keepini; them from reaching the floor. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Sofa .... facing 471 

Sofa of the first twenty years of the nineteenth century, carvea with the solidity and mass- 
iveness of detail peculiar to the time. R. Sturgis. 

Two Chairs and a Letter Case .... 473 

The chair on the left is of a design which Thomas Sheraton made peculiarly his own, 
the central slat being wrought into the guise of a classical vase with festoons, and this 
enclosed in a special arcaded open frame, reinforced in its turn by a secondary and plainer 
frame. The design is illogical enough, but its dignity and fitness for a room of reception 
and ceremony cannot be denied. The simple armchair on the right would seem to be of 
the design modified originally from the Windsor chair. Thus might a cabinet-maker of 
renown deal with the simple problem which that traditional form would oflfer him. R. 
Sturgis. 

Sheraton Chair ...... 475 

A chair but slightly modified from the design shown on the left, page 473. This is another 
instance of a design, giving satisfaction to its maker and therefore played with, treated in dif- 
ferent ways with but slight change of detail, and always with pleasure to workman and to 
purchaser. R. Sturgb. 

Sheraton Sofa. ...... 479 

Sofa of very fine and agreeable form; but the piece is in reality a completely covered sofa, 
with the wooden fiame as completely concealed as is the stout wire frame of our modern 
reml>ourri sty\e. The strip along the back is a mere adjunct to the actual framing-piece con- 
cealed by the stuff and that of the arms •« even more slender, and as it were a wooden bind- 
ing put on where a piece of passementerie might equally well have been used. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Inlaid Sideboard and Chippendale 

Chairs .... facing 480 

Sideboard and two chairs ; the chairs of about 1780, probably Chippendale of a simple pat- 
tern ; the sideboard somewhat later, probably 1805, perhaps by Heppelwhite, retaining 
some of its original hardware and unrestored. Upon the sideboard are two knife-cases of 
polished wood, one open to show the interior arrangement. 

The sideboard is of singular beauty of design. The reeding of the legs would be alone 
recommendation enough to an ardent collector or student, for it is very rare that this detail 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



■ M Bmple and tucceatfully mafugcd. The rounded member which fenns one of the legi 
below forms above a perfectly well adapted comer-piece, and in another case an equally 
fitting divbion between the central mau and the (ide cupboards. The beauty of proportioa 
and grace of outline of this piece are unsurpassed in pieces of this style and epoch. R. 
Sturgis. 

Work-Table ....... 

Work-table ; that is to lay, a table in which a lower drawer has suspended from it and re- 
pbcing a wooden bottom, some much larger receptacle which might,as in this case, be of stutT, 
silk, or some more costly textile material, and finished with a fringe. The piece on page 
485 is of a different character, and the two show very well the tables used by bdies at a 
time when it was customary to have some pretty sewing work ready to carry on in the re- 
ception or sitting-roum. Those were the days when there was not quite the same demand 
for constant amusement as a known in the twentieth century. The bdies of the time ex- 
pected to make some sort of dainty occupation of work which had to be done or might be 
thought to need doing. The table itself is in this case extremely interesting, with prettily 
applied carving, which in itself is of merit. R. Sturgis. 

Work-Table ....... 

Work-table in which the triple design of the wooden frame allows equally for each of two 
powible distributions. The side pieces above may be work-boxes, that is, little tills for the 
keeping of spools, scisson, and the rest — what a sailor would call the ditty boxes — and the 
centre compartment being open allowed the arm to reach into the silk bag below. The 
other arrangement allowed by this table is a division of three bags with three separate open- 
ings to them from above, and a single cover to all three. R. Sturgis. 



481 



483 



// 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part VI 






"A 



Q 





THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part VI. CKippendale 

AND OTHER GREAT CABINET-MAKERS OF THE 
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 

HE family of Boulle (written also Boule and 
Biihl) acquired great fame as cabinet-mak- 
ers in the seventeenth century. The most 
celebrated was Andre-Charles, the son of 
Jean, and the nephew of Pierre Boulle. 
These elder BouUes bore the title of " menu- 
siers du roi'' and lived at the Louvre. 

Andr6-Charles Boulle, native of Paris, architect, 
painter, and sculptor in mosaic, born November loth, 
1642, died in Paris in the galleries of the Louvre, where 
he had had the honour of residing since 1672. 

Boulle was not the originator of the style that bears 
his name : he carried it to such perfection, however, that it 
will always be associated with him. Long before Boulle 
began to work. Cardinal Mazarin owned a cabinet of tor- 
toise-shell and ebony, outlined with copper-gilt and suf>- 
ported on copper-gilt monsters. This was still further or- 

40J 




THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

namented with copper-gilt masques, cartouches, foliage, 
animals, and figures in bas-relief representing various fables 
from Ovid. From the reign of Henri IV., but more es- 
pecially that of Louis XIII., there had been a growling use 
of metal in combination with wood, and the liking for and 
use of luxurious furniture, constructed of precious metals 
and richly decorated, was greatly fostered by Anne of 
Austria and Cardinal Mazarin. The latter owned furni- 
ture of the most sumptuous description. At this period, 
the rich financiers furnished their homes with silver furni- 
ture, — a fashion brought over the Pyrenees with the daugh- 
ter of Philip III. on her marriage with the Dauphin, after- 
wards Louis XIV. 

Furniture under the latter monarch soon outshone that 
of past reigns, although, for the most part, it was sculptured 
in wood and gilt rather than chiselled out of metal. The 
King was not the only one to enjoy luxurious articles; as 
an example, we may recall the superb bed-room set of sil- 
ver presented to Mile. d'Aumont on her marriage with M. 
de Beringhen. Indeed there was so much extravagance 
that sumptuary laws were passed. 

Furniture in precious metals had its influence as well 
as its comparatively short day, and wooden furniture was 
gilded and silvered in imitation of it. The furniture in the 
reign of the grand monarque was principally gilded : gold 
glittered everywhere. 

In 1667, the Manufacture royalle des Meubles de la 
Couronne — in other words, the Gobelin Manufactory (tak- 
ing its name from the Gobelen brothers of Flanders) — was 
founded. The intention of the King and his minister of 
finance, Colbert, was to adorn the royal palaces with furni- 
ture hangings, bronze, mosaics, etc., etc., of the greatest 

404 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

splendour. The manufactory was placed under the direc- 
tion of the famous painter Le Brun, who, in this capacity, 
gave French art a character of unity so perfect and com- 
plete as to impose French styles all over Europe. A vast 
number of artists and artisans worked under one governing 
idea. Boulle was made ** ebeniste^ ciseleur^ et marqueteur or- 
dinaire du RoVy' and devoted himself to producing the fur- 
niture so well in harmony with the magnificence of Ver- 
sailles, Marly, and other palaces of the King and his cour- 
tiers. 

Boulle's furniture consists almost exclusively of ar- 
moires, consoles, tables and desks, — such forms as present 
large surfaces for decoration. It naturally follows that his 
designs are frequently four-square and heavy ; yet they 
often take the curved, or bombe shape, and it is not uncom- 
mon to find the legs of his tables joined by the X-shaped 
stretcher. His cases for clocks are also valued. 

" No one would refuse to admit," says a modern 
French critic, " that the architecture is the least remark- 
able part of the creations of this celebrated artist. His 
great merit, independently of the perfection of the work 
of his ebenisteriey must be sought elsewhere. Boulle is a 
colourist in his art more than a designer. The contours of 
his furniture are often heavy and he added nothing new. 
You may find all the elements in the immense work of Le 
Brun, the great master of decorative art under Louis XIV. 
The superiority and the originality of this cabinet-maker 
consists in the admirable combination of the bronze and the 
copper with the background of the furniture which he un- 
derstood how to vary infinitely by the multiplicity of 
incrustations and mosaics upon the groundwork of oak and 
chestnut. This was his palette, from which he drew his 

405 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

surprising effects and on which he played with his con- 
summate virtuosity; it is to this that he owes his legiti- 
mate renown, greater even in England than it is in 
France." 

Boulle's work is an intarsia or marquetry of tortoise- 
shell and metals. Ebony or oak forms the framework or 
background for the decoration. The designs of the orna- 
ments of thin brass, or white metal, are usually branches of 
foliage or scrolls, and are sometimes elaborately engraved. 
Freque'ntly these metal ornaments are fastened to the bed 
of wood with small brass nails, hammered flat, and after- 
wards chased, so that they are invisible. The method of in- 
crustation was as follows : the workman superimposed a plate 
of metal and a plate of shell of equal size and thickness, 
and, after having traced his design upon this, cut the pat- 
tern out with a saw. He then had four ornamental designs, 
or patterns, two of which were hollowed out. Into the 
hollowed out tortoise-shell pattern he would fit the corre- 
sponding metal pattern, and into the hollowed out metal 
pattern he would lit the corresponding tortoise-shell pattern. 
Two pieces of furniture were frequently made at the same 
time. The tortoise-shell ground with the metal inlay 
was considered the " lirst part " ; and the metal ground 
with the tortoise-shell inlay, ** th^ counterpart." Frequent- 
ly, also, the first and second parts were mingled in the same 
piece of furniture. An interesting example of such balan- 
cing belonged to Sir Richard Wallace; examples of the 
reverse designs occur in two console tables in the Galerie 
d'Apollon at Versailles. 

The earlier style, called " old Boulle," was costly, owing 
to the waste in cutting ; but the expense was lessened af- 
terwards by sawing through several thicknesses of material 

406 




Bori.I.K SKCRETARV AND CABINET 
In Memorial Hall, Philadelphia, Pa. Sff page 408, 




BOULLE CABINET 

In the Museum of Fine Arts, Bojlon, Mass. See paj^e 408. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and producing a number of designs at once. This process 
is known as ** Boulle and Counter." In the ** old Boulle" 
the shell was left in its natural colour; in the " new Boulle" 
it was laid on a vermilion or gilt ground. A beautiful ex- 
ample of the latter faces page 403. This table belongs to 
Mrs. Andrew Symonds of Charleston, S. C, having de- 
scended to her through the Breaux family of New Orleans. 
The shell used is that of the hawk's-bill turtle, or tortoise. 
The most prized scales are dark brown with light golden 
spots. 

Boulle also used ebony, pearl shells, ivory and woods. 
That he worked in wood-marquetry we have proof from 
an Inventaire prepared by him after a tire had destroyed his 
workshop in 1720. He mentions : "Five boxes filled with 
different Howers, birds, animals, leaves, and ornaments in 
all kinds of natural colours, the greater number by Boulle 
perey made in his youth. Twelve cases of all kinds of col- 
oured rare woods." He valued these at 8,000 livres. 

Boulle, who was also a sculptor, frequently chased the 
mouldings, feet, etc., for his works. 

The sons and pupils of Boulle sometimes used horn, col- 
oured blue or red, instead of tortoise-shell. Among them 
may be mentioned Philippe Poitou, who became the King's 
marquetry- worker in 1698. The Crescents, father and 
son, who also made furniture enriched with ornaments of 
copper and shell, acquired fame during the Regency. The 
son was ^*ehemste des palats du due d' Orleans ^ 

At the period of Boulle's popularity in France, Eng- 
land's sumptuous furniture was silver beautifully embossed. 
A great interest was taken in carving in wood during the 
last part of the seventeenth century ; but Steele includes 
in a humourous paper upon Lady Fardingale's stolen treas- 

♦07 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ures (1710), "a small cabinet with six drawers inlaid with 
red tortoise-shell and brass gilt ornaments at the four cor- 
ners," which shows that BouUe was fashionable in Eng- 
land at this date. 

Porcelain was much used to ornament furniture in 
Boulle's day. 

The Boulle cabinet, facing page 406, is in Memorial Hall, 
Philadelphia. It has onnoulu mounts ; the front and flap of 
the desk are inlaid brass and tortoise-shell ; the columns sup- 
porting the pediment are twisted with Corinthian capitals 
of brass ; the pilasters and doors are of brown tortoise-shell ; 
the Cupids and other ornaments are gilt; four porcelain 
medallions decorate the front, two are portraits of Henri- 
etta Maria and Charles I., the other two are mythological 
subjects. The front hoofs are brass, the back hoofs of 
wood. 

The two marriage coffers ordered by the king on the 
occasion of the marriage of his son, the Grand Dauphin, 
to Marie Christine de Bavaria, were probably the most 
ornate work of this celebrated ebeniste. 

Another fine specimen of Boulle's work, a cabinet, 
said to have been made for the Cardinal de Retz, is pre- 
served at Windsor Castle. 

A very ornate cabinet by Boulle, owned by the Mu- 
seum of Fine Arts, Boston, faces this page. 

The difference between furniture characteristic of the 
seventeenth and that of the eighteenth century is suffi- 
ciently marked to be startling to one who has not studied 
the subject; he would make a grievous error in assum- 
ing that the change was sudden or abrupt. Even people 
who take an intelligent interest in the decorative arts, 
often speak of styles of ornament as if each were a separate 

408 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




and independent creation, springing to life 
from one great brain, in full panoply, like 
Minerva. They also imagine that the old 
order immediately passes away, falling like 
blossoms before the first frosts. The 
transitional period with its modifications 
and developments is entirely 
lost sight of, the distinct char- 
acteristics of each style only be- 
ing considered. This tendency 
to draw sharp dividing lines be- 
tween periods is partly account- 
able for the fact that, as we shall 
see, the name Chippendale is 
loosely used as a designation for 
a whole period of furniture to 
which manv artists and crafts- 
men contributed. Some space may therefore be profitably 
devoted to bridging the gulf between Jacobean furniture 
and that which appears in Chippendale's book. 

It is only when art is at a low ebb in a community that 
a medley of moveables is found in wealthy homes ; even 
the discovery of the strange products of the East and their 
importation soon brought about a demand for buildings 
and interior decoration in character with Oriental furniture 
and ceramics, as we shall see. 

In Mediieval halls, the furniture is cumbrous and solid, 
in sympathy with the heavily carved wall and rafter, and 
seems almost to form part of the architectural decoration. 
In such a setting, furniture of delicate and graceful form 
would have been out of place. When, therefore, we re- 
member that furniture contributed to effects of interior 



MAHOGANY CHAIR 

From the Glen.Sandcn house, Scotia, N. Y. 
See page 463. 



409 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

decoration, we can readily understand why it was specially 
designed by great artists, carvers and architects. 

Let us now take a rapid survey of those who influenced 
the new developments. 

Philibert de TOrme (died 1570) designed chimney- 
pieces decorated with terminal figures, scrolls, escutcheons, 
etc. 

Mathurin Jousse was a designer in metal mountings, 
etc. His book (1627) figures, also, a kind of invalid chair 
that can be propelled by the occupant, and a four-post bed 
with an early form of casters. 

Jean Berain (1636— 171 i) employed his talents freely 
on the decoration of rooms and furniture. 

Jean Le Pautre, who studied under a cabinet-maker 
named Philippon and died in 1682, designed tables, chim- 
ney-pieces, mirrors, gueridonSy etc. His works, published 
in I 73 I, are full of French Renaissance details which must 
have been of great use to the English cabinet-makers, who, 
like Chippendale, delighted in florid carving. Moreover, 
his motives, doubtless, crossed the Channel, and were known 
to the native carvers forty years before his works were pub- 
lished in Paris, for a pupil of his, Daniel Marot, was one 
of the many skilful Huguenots employed in this branch of 
art who were forced to leave their country by the revoca- 
tion of the Edict of Nantes. He went to Holland in 1686, 
and when the Prince of Orange became William HI. of 
England, three years later, Marot became his chief archi- 
tect and master of works. Staircases, panelling and all gen- 
eral furniture were among his numerous designs. He had 
become acquainted with the latest Dutch marquetry de- 
signs, and the Oriental wares with which the Low Coun- 
tries were being inundated. His influence, therefore, in 

410 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

introducing the so-called Queen Anne style, must have been 
very potent. 

In England, Marot found architects and workmen who 
were receptive and progressive. Inigo Jones, who died in 
1653, had already worked in the Renaissance style. His 
Classic chimney-pieces were carved in wood, stone and mar- 
ble by imported Italians. Foreign labour, however, was 
not required now, for an English school of carving of the 
highest ability had arisen, and at its head was the famous 
Grinling Gibbons (1650— 1721), who in addition to his 
other work, carved wall-panels, mirror-frames and chim- 
ney-pieces. His most renowned pupils were Watson, Doe- 
vot of Brussels (died 171 5) and Laurens of Mechlin. 

Designs in interior decoration and furniture were de- 
parting widely from what the conservative element consid- 
ered advisable. Protests were soon heard against this 
license. In 1697, Evelyn writes: "As certain great mas- 
ters invented certain new corbels, scrolls and modilions, 
which were brought into use ; so their followers animated 
by their example (but with much less judgment) have pre- 
sumed to introduce sundry baubles and trifling decorations (as 
they fancy) in their works. . . . And therefore, tho' such 
devices and inventions may seem pretty in cabinet-work, 
tables, frames and other joyners-work for variety, to place 
china dishes upon; one would by no means encourage or 
admit them in great and noble buildings." 

Evelyn evidently alludes to the work of Borromini, 
Berain, Marot and their followers, who were bringing se- 
verity and restraint into disfavour. Marot was only one of 
many foreigners who worked in England. A list of the for- 
eigners in London, soon after the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes in 1685, reveals a great number of Huguenot join- 

4«« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ers, carvers and goldsmiths. It is well known that this exile 
drained France of many of her most skilful workmen, and 
proportionately enriched England, Germany and the Neth- 
erlands. French art, moreover, was imparted to the Eng- 
lish cabinet-makers by many of the French designers and 
artists who visited and sometimes took up their residence 
in England. Among others, J. B. Monnoyer, commonly 
called Baptiste, died in London in 1 699. Samuel Gribelin 
was another who worked chiefly in England, and died there 
in 1733. In 1682, he published A Book of severall Orna- 
ments. Later publications of his were A Book of Ornaments 
useful to feivelers^ Watchmakers and all other Artists (1697) 
and A New Book of Ornaments useful to all Artists. Until 
the death of C^een Anne, however, it was the Dutch rather 
than the French that dominated English taste. 

Sir Christopher Wren (1632— 1723) superintended the 
furnishing and decorations of Queen Mary's apartments in 
Hampton Court Palace. There were alcoves in the din- 
ing-room for sideboard tables, and the carved chimney- 
pieces had receding shelves for china. There were also 
tables with carved and gilt frames and tops of coloured 
marble. 

Mary had acquired at The Hague a mania for the col- 
lection of china ornaments, and on her accession this had a 
great influence in spreading the fashion. Lord Notting- 
ham wrote in 1689 that the (^een visited many "India 
houses" (curiosity shops). The exchange of porcelain for 
ladies' cast-off clothing became a recognized trade. 

William Kent (1684— 1748) designed most of the fur- 
niture at Houghton^ the seat of Sir Robert Walpole. Hor- 
ace Walpole doubted his good taste ; he says : ** Chaste as 
these ornaments were, they were often immeasurably pon- 

412 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

derous. His chimney pieces, though lighter than those of 
Inigo, whom he imitated, are frequently heavy ; and his 
constant introduction of pediments and the members of 
architecture over doors and within rooms, was dispropor- 




CHAIR 



Owned by Min Sherburne, Warner Houk, Portsmouth, N. H. See page 456. 



tionate and cumbrous. Kent's style, however, predomi- 
nated authoritatively during his life; and his oracle was so 
much consulted by all who affected taste, that nothing was 
thought complete without his assistance. He was not only 
consulted for furniture, as frames of pictures, glasses, tables, 
chairs, etc., but for plate, for a barge, for a cradle. And 



413 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

so impetuous was the fashion, that two great ladies pre- 
vailed on him to make designs for their birthday gowns. 
The one he dressed in a petticoat decorated with columns 
of the live orders; the other, like a bronze, in a copper- 
coloured satin with ornaments of gold." 

The English, Dutch and Portuguese trade with the 



<r>s%. 




MAHOGANY CHAIRS 
Owned by Stephen Girard, now in Girard College, Philadelphia. See page 463. 

East had greatly affected taste in furniture during the sec- 
ond half of the seventeenth century. An early lover of 
Chinese art was Cardinal Mazarin. He hit upon an in- 
genious way of bringing Oriental goods into prominence 
in the fashionable world as early as 1658. An entry in the 
diary of the King's cousin, La Grande Mademoiselle, re- 
lates how : •* He took the two queens, the princess and 
myself into a gallery that was full of all imaginable kinds 

414 



thp: furniture of our forefathers 

of stone-work, jewelry and all the beautitul things that 
came from China, crystal chandeliers, mirrors, tables, cabi- 
nets of all kinds, silver plate, etc." These were for a lot- 
tery in which every one was to have a prize. 

The Cardinal started the taste for Chinese products so 
successfully that, in 1686, when Count Lauzun and the 
above famous princess had quarrelled, the count could 
think of no better way to conciliate her than by sending 
her a cargo of Chinese goods from England. 

At this period, Paris received mOvSt of her Orient?.? 
wares through London or Amsterdam, though later there 
were enormous importations through L'Orient. Evelyn 
notes in his Diary ^ March 22, 1664: ** One Tomson, a 
Jesuite shewed me such a collection of rarities, sent from 
ye Jesuites of Japan and China to their order at Paris, as 
a present to be received in their repository, but brought to 
London by the East India ships for them, as in my life I 
had not seen. The chiefe things were rhinoceros's horns ; 
glorious vests wrought and embroidered on cloth of gold, 
but with such lively colors, that for splendour and vividness 
we have nothing in Europe that approaches it . . . fanns 
like those our ladies use, but much larger, and with long 
handles curiously carved and filled with Chinese characters; 
a sort of paper very broad, thin and fine like abortive parch- 
ment, and exquisitely polished, of an amber yellow, exceed- 
ingly glorious and pretty to looke on ; several other sorts of 
paper, some written, other printed ; prints of landskips, their 
idols, saints, pagods, of most ugly serpentine monstrous and 
hideous shapes, to which they paid devotion ; pictures of 
men and countries rarely printed on a sort of gum'd calico 
transparent as glasse ; flowers, trees, beasts, birds, etc., ex- 
cellently wrought in a sort of sieve silk very naturall." 

4«5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

In 1676, he says that Lord Wotton's "furniture is very 
particular for Indian cabinets, porcelane, and other solid and 
noble moveables.'* 

We have already seen how early and in what quantities 
all kinds of Oriental wares reached the American colonies. 

A carved ebony cabinet is shown on the frontispiece. 
It belonged to Houqua, a mandarin of China, and is now 
owned by Mrs. Caleb T. Smith of Smithtown, L. I. The 
two ebony chairs and table on the opposite page, and the 
ebony chair and set of lacquer tables facing page 424, also 
belong to Mrs. Smith and have the same origin. It is well 
known that fashion in China is not very mutable and there- 
fore that the styles here depicted are most likely the same 
as those that prevailed during the period we have been ex- 
amining. The ball-and-claw feet of the table and the high- 
backed chairs with turned legs may well have been proto- 
types of early eighteenth-century furniture. The carved 
heads on the armchair (facing page 424) and the squat 
bulging legs with claw feet are curiously familiar. 

It can be readily understood how the interiors of rooms 
would be affected when porcelains had to be displayed to 
the best decorative advantage. The chimney-piece suffered 
considerable modifications. Daviler, in his Cours d' archi- 
tecture (169 1), says: "The height of the cornice (of the 
chimney-pieces) should be raised six feet in order that the 
vases with which they are ornamented may not be knocked 
down." 

Marot's designs are most instructive on this point. 
Some show high cornices and door-tops loaded with bowls 
and vases, and the walls have tiers of small brackets be- 
tween the decorative panels, each holding a piece of china. 
An over-mantel, nearly sixteen feet in height, is adorned 

416 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

with eleven carved images and two hundred and seventy-five 
cups, vases and bowls arranged symmetrically; the varied 
sizes and shapes produce a splendid effect. The adjoining 
wall-panel is painted with four subjects in tier that are 
clearly recognizable as Chinese, — a temple, some figures 




v^ 



MAHOGANY CHAIRS 
Owned by Mn. W^inwrighr, Hartford, Conn. 



See page 463. 



and vsome kind of dragon being the most characteristic, 
Marot's willingness to adopt Oriental subjects for interior 
decoration shows what public taste was beginning to de- 
mand. His successors found this new impulse sweeping 
everything before it. 

From the acce.ssion of William HI. till the death of 
Queen Anne, the ties between England and the Low Coun- 
tries were very close. After William's death, Marlbor- 

417 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ough's campaign enabled thousands of English officers to 
become acquainted with Flemish art and fashions, and 
made them hostile to everything French. The "(^een 
Anne" style is thus essentially Anglo-Dutch, with China as 
a dominant note. 

In 171 1, Addison thus describes a lady's "library": 
*• The very sound of a Lady' s Library gave me a great 
Curiosity to see it ; and as it was some time before the Lady 
came to me, I had an opportunity of turning over a great 
many of her Books which were ranged together in very 
beautiful Order. At the End of her Folios (which were 
very finely bound and gilt) were great jars of China, placed 
one above another in a very noble piece of Architecture. 
The Quartos were separated from the Octavos by a Pile of 
smaller Vessels which rose in a delightful Pyramid. The 
Octavos were bounded by Ten dishes of all Shapes, Colours 
and Sizes, which were so disposed on a wooden Frame, 
that they looked like one continued Pillar indented with 
the finest Strokes of Sculpture, and stained with the great- 
est variety of Dyes. That Part of the Library which was 
designed for the Reception of Plays and pamphlets and 
other loose Papers, was enclosed in a kind of Square con- 
sisting of one of the prettiest grotesque Works that I ever 
saw, and made up of Scaramouches, Lions, Monkies, Man- 
darines, Trees, Shells, and a thousand other odd Figures in 
China Ware. In the midst of the Room was a littlejapan 
Table with a quire of gilt Paper upon it, and on the Paper 
a Silver SnufF-box made in the shape of a little Book. I 
found there were several Counterfeit Books upon the upper 
Shelves, which were carved in wood, and several only to 
fill up the number." 

Cabinet-makers of that day bowed gracefully to the 

418 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

prevailing taste and imitated Chinese and Japanese work in 
a class of furniture with lac-work panels and rich gilt 
metal mounts. This "black" furniture ornamented in 
gold-dust with raised Chinese figure designs was in great 
demand. It found its way to this side of the Atlantic, and 
sometimes appears in the inventories. 

In 1724, Defoe writes that china is piled on the top 
of cabinets, secretaries and every chimney-piece to the 
tops of the ceilings, on shelves set up to hold it. 

The carved objects in ivory, ebony, teak and other 
woods, the metal wares, the pictures on silk and paper, the 
fans, and, above all, the porcelains ornamented with scenes 
of temple, palace and cottage architecture, and interior 
decorations, opened an entirely new vista of art and orna- 
mental design. 

Sir William Chambers is generally credited with the 
responsibility for this Chinese fad. This, however, is an 
entirely erroneous impression, for the fashion had taken 
deep root long before he published the sketches and 
measurements he had taken in Canton. Indeed, he inti- 
mates that he is partly induced to give them to the world 
as a corrective. In his preface he says : ** It was not my 
design to publish them, nor would they now appear, were 
it not in compliance with the desire of several lovers of the 
arts, who thought them worthy of the perusal of the pub- 
lick, and that they might be of use in putting a stop to the 
extraordinary fancies that daily appear under the name of 
Chinese, though most of them are mere inventions, the 
rest copies from the lame representations found on porce- 
lain and paper-hangings." 

Chippendale, whose work had been published four 
years previously, is one of the offenders to whom he al- 

4«9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




MAHOGANY CHAIR 

Originally owned by Cornelia Harring Jones, 
now by Mrs. John Bleecker Miller, New York. 
See page 460. 



ludes. In the very year in which he pub- 
lished the above, two books appeared, by 
Thomas Johnson and by Edwards and 
Darly, that fully illustrate the extrava- 
gances on which he animadverts. Among 
the decorative devices are 
temple, bridge, summer- 
house, hermitage, alcove,or- 
chestra, water-summer- 
house, oval landscape, water- 
piece, fishing with birds, 
landscape with archers, fish- 
ing with nets, dragon boats, 
pleasure boats, birds, beasts, 
grand bed, palanquins, arm- 
chair, canopy, philosopher, 
mandarin and soldier, man- 
darin and fakir, procession, tea-drinking, flowers, etc. 

A still earlier publication of this school was William 
Halfpenny's New Designs for Chinese Temples ^ Triumphal 
Arches y Garden-Seats, Pali?igs, etc. (London, 1750— 1752.) 
The author was a carpenter and architect and he was as- 
sisted by his son. Extravagant fancy could hardly excel 
their designs. Describing a ** Chinese alcove seat " front- 
ing four ways, they suggest that " above the crown of the 
cove may be a room wherein musicians may be secreted 
and play soft music to the agreeable surprise of strangers; 
the performers going in by a subterranean passage." A 
richly carved " Chinese settee" of the Chippendale school 
faces page 430. It belonged to Governor Wentworth 
and is still owned bv his devscendants, in the Ladd House, 
Portsmouth, N. H. See also page 369. 



4Z0 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Besides the Chinese craze, a kind of spurious Gothic 
revival affected decorative art to some extent towards the 
middle of the century. No review of the period would be 
complete without some attention being paid to this move- 
ment. The Gothic style had fallen into ill-repute. In 
1697, John Evelyn calls it **a certain fantastical and licen- 
cious manner of building which we have since called 
Moiieni (or Gothic rather) conjestions of heavy, dark, melan- 
choly and monkish piles without any just proportion, use 
or beauty. ... So when we meet with the greatest indus- 
try and expensive carving, full oi fret and lamentable Imagry 
a judicious spectator is distracted and quite confounded. . . . 
Not that there is not something of solid and odly artificial 
too, after a sort : but then the universal and unreasonable 
thickness of the walls, clumsy buttresses, towers, sharp- 
pointed arches, doors and other apertures without propor- 
tion ; nonsense insertions of various marbles impertinently 
placed ; turrets and pinnacles thickset with Munkies and 
chimeras and abundance of busy work and other incon- 
gruities dissipate and break the angles of the sight and so 
confound it that one cannot consider it with any steadiness. 
. . . Vast and gigantic buildings indeed but not worthy the 
name of architecture." 

This opinion was shared by most people, and the only 
thing about Gothic architecture that was valued seems to 
have been its ruins. Some of the nobility are even said to 
have dismantled their castles purposely ; and the old furni- 
ture was utterly despised. The formal Dutch gardens also 
began to give way to a new stvle about this time, and 
ruins came in handy. In 1728, Batty Langley published 
The Principles of Gardening. One plate shows *'an ave- 
nue, in perspective, terminated with the ruins of an ancient 

4»« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

building after the Roman manner;" and eight other plates 
show " views of ruins after the old Roman manner for the 
termination of walks, avenues, etc." Some of these are of 
Classic and others of nondescript Gothic architecture. 
"Such walks that end in disagreeable objects" are to be 
adorned with these ruins which ** may either be painted upon 
canvas, or actually built in that manner with brick, and 
covered with plastering in imitation of stone." Ruins 
were freely used as decorative accessories by the contempor- 
ary French masters of design, and the English carvers were 
adopting them in their work. Chippendale makes great 
use of ruins as well as the other details of rococo ornament. 
The gardens of the day supplied the designers with other 
suggestions besides floral devices and ruins. One of Lang- 
ley's plates shows " a fountain and cascade after the grand 
manner at Versailles." He adds : " When figures of shell- 
work are erected in the midst of fountains, we receive a 
double pleasure of a fountain and cascade also by the waters 
agreeably murmuring down the rocky shells." It is this 
rock-and-shell work that is so characteristic of Louis Quinze 
work ; and of which Chippendale liberally avails himself. 
In 1742, Langley brings out Ancient Architecture. It 
is " restored and improved by a great variety of grand and 
useful designs entirely new in the Gothic Mode for the 
ornamenting of buildings and gardens exceeding everything 
that's extant." The author's list of the " Encouragers " 
includes eighty-one of the nobility, two bishops, nine 
judges, two ladies of title, sixteen gentlemen, three carpen- 
ters, one smith and one mason. Horace Walpole's name 
appears on the list: he is usually credited with being re- 
sponsible for the Gothic revival, but he did not buy Straw- 
berry Hill till six years after this date, and not till 1750 

4ax 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

does he announce : ** I am going to build a little Gothic 
castle." The truth is that he merely infused new life into 
the fashion, for, in 1756, Ware says : "The Gothic is dis- 
tinguished from the antique architecture by its ornaments 
being whimsical and its profiles incorrect. The inventors 




CHIPPENDALE CHAIR 
la the houM of Mr. Chariea R. Waten, Salem, Man. See page 462. 



of it probably thought they exceeded the Grecian method, 
and some of late have seemed, by their fondness for Gothic 
edifices, to be of the same opinion ; but this was but a ca- 
price, and, to the credit of our taste, is going out of fash- 
ion again as hastily as it came in. . . . The error of the 
late taste has been in attempting to bring the Gothic into 
use in smaller buildings, in which it can never look well." 
The influential list of Langley's ** Encouragers " shows 

4»$ 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the fashionable vogue of the so-called Gothic in 1742. 
Mrs. Delanv's letters also show that Walpole was follow- 
ing rather than introducing a style. In 1754, she writes: 
*' I am working stools in worsted chenille for the Gothic 
cell." Two years later, in describing Lady Oxford's house, 
she mentions a great Gothic hall, and adds: "The chapel 
is to be new built in the same taste ; th'e alterations Lady 
Oxford made in this place cost above 40,000 pounds, and 
her apartment is the prettiest thing I ever saw, consisting 
of a skylight antechamber or vestibule, adorned in the 
Gothic way. The rooms that encompass it are a library, 
a dressing-room, a room fitted up with china and Japan of 
the rarest kinds, and a Gothic room full of charming pic- 
tures, and embellished with everything that can make it 
look gay and pleasant: it is lighted by a window some- 
thing of the Venetian kind, but prettier, and the whole 
breadth of one side of the room." 

Again, in 1758, she writes: "My closet is just hung 
with crimson paper, a small pattern that looks like velvet; 
as soon as dry, I shall put up my pictures ; and I am going 
to make a wreath to go round the circular window in the 
chapel, of oak branches, vines and corn ; the benches for 
the servants are fixed, the chairs for the upper part of the 
chapel are a whim of mine, but I am not sure till I see a 
pattern chair that I shall like it ; it is to be in the shape 
and ornamented like a Gothic arch." 

Walpole was one of the few who recognized that the 
"Gothic" of his day was not the real thing. In 1790, the 
Gentleman s Maga-zine says: 

"Through the inability of his architects, particularly 
of Langley (who, though esteemed capital in his day, knew 
nothing of the art of constructing modern Gothic), his 

4*4 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ideas were never properly executed. Mr. VValpole often 
complained they were rather Moorish than Gothic; how- 
ever he could not at that day procure better assistance. He 
was always, however, among the lirst to depreciate his own 
architecture." 

It would seem that the English cabinet-makers of this 
period had fallen into the very reprehensible practice of 
making furniture without any reference to the interior 
decoration of the houses. Chinese, Gothic and French 
Renaissance schemes of decoration had played havoc with 
Classic ideals, and the sacred Five Orders were in danger of 
losing their authority even in England. In 1740, Langley 
calls attention to this in I'he City and Comitry Builder s and 
IVorkmen s Treasury of Designs : 

" The great pleasure that builders and workmen of all 
kinds (those called Cabinet-Makers, I think, only excepted), 
have of late years taken in the study of architecture has 
induced me to the compiling of this work. And indeed I 
am very sorry that cabinet-makers should have been supine 
herein; because of all small architectural works, none is 
more ornamental to buildings than theirs. 

" The evil genius that so presides over cabinet-makers as 
to direct them to persevere in such a pertinacious and stupid 
manner that the rules of architecture, from whence all 
beautiful proportions are deduced, are unworthy of their 
regard, I am at a loss to discover ; except Murcea, the God- 
dess of Sloth, acts that part and has thus influenced them 
to conceal their dronish, low-life, incapacities and prompt 
them, with the fox in the fable, to pronounce grapes sour 
that ripen out of their reach. 

" Cabinet-makers originally were no more than Spurious 
Indociblc Chips, expelled by joiners for the superfluity of 

4»5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

their sap, and who, by instilling stupid notions and prejudice 
to architecture into the minds of youth educated under them 
has been the cause that at this time 'tis a very great diffi- 
culty to find one in fifty of them that can make a book- 
case, etc., indispensably true after any one of the Five Orders 
without being obliged to a joiner for to set out the work 
and make his templets to work by. 

** But if these gentlemen persist much longer thus to de- 
spise the study of this noble art, the very basis and some of 
their trade, which now to many joiners is well understood, 
they will soon find the bad consequence of so doing and have 
time enough on their hands to repent of their folly. And 
more especially since that our nobility and gentry delight 
themselves now more than ever in the study of architecture 
which enables them to distinguish good work and work- 
men from assuming pretenders." 

He gives more than four hundred designs, including 
buffets, cisterns, chimney-pieces, pavements, frets, clocks, 
frames for marble tables " after the French manner," marble 
and stone tables, for grottos, arbors in gardens, pedestals for 
sun-dials and busts, a chest of drawers, medal case, cabinet 
of drawers and a dressing-table all " enriched after the French 
manner." The dressing-table is also draped : this, as well as 
the table-frames, are most interesting as being frankly taken 
from the French and showing much of the carved orna- 
mentation that appears still further developed in Chippen- 
dale's book fourteen years later. 

Following thevse, come "eight designs of book-cases, 
which, if executed by a good joiner, and with beautiful 
materials, will have good effects, or even if by a cabinet- 
maker, provided that he understands how to proportion 
and work the Five Orders, which at this time, to the shame 

426 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of that trade be it spoken, there is not one in a hundred 
that ever employed a moment's thought therein, or knows 
the Tuscan from the Doric, or the Corinthian from the 
Composite Order, and more especially if the Doric freeze 




MAHOGANY CHAIRS 
Originally belonging to Philip Van Renuelaer, now owned by Mrs. Edward Rankin at Cbtrry Hil/f 
Albany, N. Y. Sec page 463. 



hath its triglyphs and mutules omitted. In short the ul- 
timate knowledge of these sort of workmen is generally 
seen to finish with a monstrous Cove, or an Astragal, crowned 
with a Cima Reversa, in an open pediment of stupid height. 
" When a Gentleman applies himself with a good design 
of a book-case, etc., made by an able architect, to most of 



4*7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the masters in this trade, they instantly condemn it and 
allege that 'tis not possible to make cabinet-works look 
well that are proportioned by the Rules of Architecture ; 
because, they say, the members will be too large and heavy, 
etc., whereas the real truth is that they do not understand 
how to proportion and work the members of those designs 
and therefore advise the unwary to accept of such Stuff as 
their poor crazy capacities will enable them to make, and 
wherein 'tis always seen that the magnitudes of their Coves 
and Cima Reversas (their darling finishing) are much 
larger members than any members of a regular cornice 
(even of the Tuscan Order) of the same height, wherefore 
'tis evident that all their assertions of this kind are used for 
nothing more than to conceal an infinite fund of stubborn 
ignorance which cannot be parallelled by any other set of 
mortals in the world." 

No examination of the influences that affected English 
work during the early part of the eighteenth century would 
be adequate unless it took into account the contemporary 
French school of design. The goldsmiths, artists and ar- 
chitects under the Regent and Louis XV. neglected Classi- 
cal authority and frankly adopted Chinese models in their 
designs, as well as Arabesques with ape-forms and floral de- 
vices. Watteau designed furniture and did not disdain 
Chinese panels. It must be remembered that he spent the 
year 171 9 in England. J. Pillement, who did so much 
Chinese work, found it worth while to bring out A New 
Book of Chinese Ornaments in London in 1755. 

Nearly every decorative artist of the day made some use 
of the Chinese. However, the masters of rocaille orna- 
mentation were most strongly to influence Chippendale, 
since England already had had her own Chinese craze. A 

428 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

most important leader of this school was J. A. Meissonier, 
who was designer of orf^rerie to the king. Facility, 
power and entire lack of restraint characterised his designs. 
In 1754, Cochin, the engraver, published a satirical "sup- 
plication to goldsmiths, chisellers, carvers of woodwork for 
apartments, and others, by a society of architects." In 
this, the goldsmiths are begged, " when executing an arti- 




AN ARMCHAIR AND TWO SHERATON CHAIRS 

Bdwo^g to the Fletcher ^unily. From the collection of the Wayside Inn, Sudbury, Mass. Owned by 

Mr. £. R, Lemon. See page 461. 



choke, or a head of celery in its natural size on some piece 
of carved work, to be good enough not to place beside it a 
hare as big as one's linger, a life-size lark, and a pheasant 
one-fourth or one-rifth of its natural size ; children of the 
same size as a vine-leaf; or figures of supposed natural size 
supported by a decorative Hower that could scarcely bear a 
little bird without bending; trees with trunks slimmer than 
one of their own leaves, and many other equally sensible 
things of the same kind. We should also be infinitely 
obliged to them if they would be good enough not to alter 

4»9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the uses of objects but to remember, for instance, that a 
chandelier should be straight and perpendicular, in order to 
carry the light, and not twisted as if somebody had 
wrenched it ; and that a socket-rim should be concave to 
receive the running wax and not convex to shed it back 
upon the chandelier ; and a multitude of other no less un- 
reasonable particulars that would take too long to men- 
tion. Similarly, carvers of the interior decorations of rooms 
are begged to be obliging enough, when executing their 
trophies, not to make a scythe smaller than an hour-glass, 
a hat or Basque-drum larger than a bass-viol, a man's head 
smaller than a rose, nor a sickle as large as a rake." 

In their supposed reply to this supplication, the follow- 
ers of the new design say in part : ". . It was necessary to 
find another kind of architecture in which every worker 
could distinguish himself and make the public acquainted 
with a way of becoming skillful that should be within 
everybody's reach ; nevertheless, accepted prejudices were 
not to be rudely shocked by the sudden production of 
novelties too remote from the reigning taste, thereby run- 
ning the risk of hissing. At first, the famous Oppenord 
served us with great zeal. . . He made lavish use of our 
favourite ornaments and brought them into good credit. 
Even now he is useful to us, and there are some of us 
who take him for a model. . . We found a firmer support 
in the talents of the great Meissonier. It is true that the 
latter had studied in Italy, and consequently was not one of 
us, but as he had wisely preferred the taste of Borromini 
to the wearisome taste of the antique, he had thereby ap- 
proached us; for Borromini rendered the same service to 
Italy that we have to France, by introducing there an ar- 
chitecture gay and independent of all those rules that of old 

430 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

were called good taste. Meissonier commenced to destroy 
all the straight lines that were used of old ; he turned and 
made the cornices bulge in every way ; he curved them 
above and below, before and behind, gave forms to all, 
even to the mouldings that seemed least susceptible of 
them ; he invented contrasts; — that is to say, he banished 
symmetry, and made no two sides of the panels alike. On 
the contrary, these two sides seemed to be trving which 
could get farthest away, and the most strangely, from the 
straight line that till then they had been subject to." 

It is difficult for us to echo the irony ; — much less in- 
dignation — of the critic of this artist who exercised so great 
an influence on the decorative art of the eighteenth century. 
The charge of having been lacking in simplicity, of carry- 
ing to extreme limits curved lines, scrolls, shell-work and 
all that fantastic architecture of a period that had taken a 
dislike to everything that was dry and angular, does not 
trouble us, who, on the contrary, think that these artists 
carried spirit and grace very far. The designers of this 
school paid great attention to shell-work, just as those of 
the sixteenth century were particularly fond of architec- 
tural arrangements (and it was the latter taste that still 
dominated English design) and just as those of the follow- 
ing reign were fascinated by the garland and the quiver. 
The taste of the Regency is as attractive to the present 
generation as that of the Empire is chilling. Meissonier's 
lines are essentially voluptuous and almost as evssentially 
feminine. Japanese art goes much further in the direction 
of contrasts and lack of equilibrium, and we do not con- 
demn it. The rocaille work is an orgy of all kinds of 
flowing lines, curves, cascades, shells, endive leaves and even 
clouds and smoke. Other decorators with less invention 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

followed Meissonier, such as Michel-Rene, Stoldz and 
Chevillon. They also used the forms drawn from the 
shell, cabbage-leaf and prawn, but they added even more 
vague and flowing forms such as fountains, ostrich plumes, 
etc. La Joue is even a past master in the art of introduc- 
ing into a decorative panel a cascade that sometimes falls, 
no one knows whence, and breaks into pearled foam. 
Everything is an excuse for cascades ; neighing horses 
prancing in the bath, a dragon crawling against the base 
of a column and spouting water from open jaws, a hunted 
stag vomiting a stream of water into the round and grooved 
basin beside which he has taken refuge. 

We shall shortly see the tremendous influence that the 
new school of French design exercised on Chippendale, 
whose book appeared in the very year in which Cochin's 
criticism was written. Before leaving Meissonier, how- 
ever, attention should be called to the intimate relation- 
ship he insists on between interior decorations of apart- 
ments and their furniture. Take, for example, one of his 
plates, Projet de Porte d' Appartement fait pour Mme. la 
Baromie de Brezenval, on page 47 of his Oeuvre. Here 
we have a chair on each side of the door, besides a table 
with graceful cabriole legs and another chair in the room 
beyond. This furniture not only corresponds in its con- 
tours to those of the general decorative scheme, but the 
details of the carving on the framework are identical with 
those used on the walls. 

Of English cabinet-makers, the name that overshadows 
all others is that of Thomas Chippendale. Many of his 
successors gained a renown that has endured, but his name is 
popularly used as a generic term for almost all the furniture 
that was in vogue for more than half a century. It is 

431 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

strange that scarcely anything is known of one to whom 
such great influence and importance are now generally at- 
tributed. The very date of the book that brought Chip- 
pendale into notice is variously given, though there should 
be no question about this. His preface is dated March, 




CHIPPENDALE CHAIR AND HEPPELWHITE CARD TABLE 
Owned by Miss Trn Eycic, Albany, N. Y. Sre pge 462. 



1754, and in April, 1754, the Gentleman's Magazine an- 
nounces, among the new books on mechanics, T/)e Gen- 
tleman s and Cahinet-Makers Directory^ hy Thomas Chip- 
pendale^ ;^2-8-o. The third and last edition published 
by him appeared in 1762. In all probability, the author 
died soon after this. 

The only facts reported about him are that he was 
born in Worcestershire, went to London and found em- 
ployment as a joiner. There, in the reign of C»corge I., 

433 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

he was a successful carver and cabinet-maker. Some 
critics hold that he was already at work in 1720. If he 
was eminent in his craft during the reign of George I. (/'. 
e.y before i 727), he can scarcely have been very active later 
than 1765, or more than forty years afterward. It is not 
therefore unreasonable to suppose that he was born about 
1695 and died about 1765, thus reaching man's natural 
term of life. 

During the second half of the century, there were cer- 
tainly two Chippendales, and probably several of the 
family at work. In 1826, George Smith, who was up- 
holsterer to the king, issued his Cabinet-Makers Guide. In 
this he speaks of " the elder Mr. Chippendale" and adds: 
" Mr. Thomas Chippendale (lately deceased) and known 
only amongst a few, possessed a very great degree of taste 
with great ability as a draughtsman and designer." Thus 
we have specific evidence that there were at least two 
Chippendales, and that one, comparatively obscure, died 
shortly before 1826. The latter, although an able 
draughtsman and designer, is very unlikely to be the same 
individual that had published, seventy years before, a book 
that was plainly the work of a man already well estab- 
lished in business. The more reasonable conclusion is 
that at least two Chippendales were engaged in designing 
as well as making furniture. 

The lack of detailed information about Chippendale 
would argue that public interest in him was not very keen, 
and that the impression produced by his work on his con- 
temporaries and immediate successors was not profound. 
If his renown had been great, we should expect to hnd 
other workmen recommending themselves at home, and 
more especially on going to the colonies, as having been 

434 




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THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

with him, and as being able to make his well-known fur- 
niture, so greatly in demand. We should also anticipate 
finding that furniture that was distinct in type from all that 
had gone before would bear the name of the famous de- 
signer, and that others would recognize his authority un- 
questioningly, and confessedly follow him. 

When we search for evidence on these points, we reach 
very curious results. Sheraton ( 1 79 1 ) says in his preface : 




CHIPPENDALE AND SHKRATON CHAIRS 
See page 461. 



" I have seen one (book of design) which seems to have 
been published before Chippendale's. I infer this from 
the antique appearance of the furniture, for there is no 
date to it; but the title informs us that it was compased 
by a society of Cabinet-makers in London. " 

** Chippendale's book seems to be next in order to this, 
but the former is without comparison to it, either as to 
size or real merit. Chippendale's book has, it is true, 
given us the proportions of the Five Orders, and lines for 
two or three cases, which is all it pretends to relative to 
rules for drawing; and, as for the designs, themselves, they 
are now wholly antiquated and laid aside, though possessed 

435 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of great merit, according to the times in which they were 
executed. . . . 

" After Chippendale's work, there appeared, in the year 
sixty-five, a book of designs for chairs only, though it is 
called The Cabinet-Maker s ?'eal Frietid arid Companion, 
as well as the Chairmaker's. . . . 

"The succeeding publication to this seems to be Ince 
and Mayhew's Book of Designs in Cabinet and Chair 
Worky with three plates containing some examples of fo- 
liage ornaments, intended for the young designer to copy 
from, but which can be of no service to any learner now, 
as they are such kind of ornaments as are wholly laid aside 
in the cabinet-branch, according to the present taste. The 
designs in cabinets and chairs are, of course, of the same 
cast, and therefore have suffered the same fate; yet, in jus- 
tice to the work, it may be said to have been a book of 
merit in its day, though much inferior to Chippendale's, 
which was a real original, as well as more extensive and 
masterly in its designs. . . . 

" In the year 1788 was published the Cabinet-Maker s 
and Upholsterer s Guide. But notwithstanding the late date 
of Heppelwhite's book, if we compare some of the designs, 
particularly the chairs, with the newest taste, we shall find 
that this work has already caught the decline, and perhaps, 
in a little time, will suddenly die in the disorder." 

From the above testimony, which certainly is not hos- 
tile to Chippendale, we gather that, forty years after its ap- 
pearance, his book was entirely neglected, notwithstanding 
the real talent displayed. We also gather that Sheraton 
does not regard Chippendale as a great innovator who 
revolutionized the furniture of his day and introduced a 
radically new style. Moreover, he considers the furniture 

436 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

in a certain book to be more antiquated than Chippen- 
dale's, and thence argues that it must, therefore, have been 
pubHshed before his. The fact is that the book referred 
to came out six years later than Chippendale's, and its de- 
signs are like the latter in general form. If, however, 
Sheraton is correct in saying that it does represent furniture 
in use before Chippendale published his work, we may 
vsafely conclude that it was only in the ornamental details 
that the furniture of the day was affected by the latter. 

George Smith published Designs for Household Furniture 
in iHoS. In this, he bewails the fact that first-class artists 
do not (as they do in France) provide designs for the cabi- 
net-maker and upholsterer. He adds : ** Very great en- 
couragement has been given of late by our Nobility and 
CJentry to various artists employed in cabinet-work, the 
good effects of which will, I doubt not, soon be felt; for 
as the beauty of the Antique consists in the purity of de- 
sign, and what was pleasing centuries ago continues to be 
equally so now, so I do not despair of seeing a style of fur- 
niture produced in this country which shall be equally 
agreeable centuries hence." 

To Mr. Smith, whose unlovely productions were being 
bought by the Prince Regent, the nobility and gentry, it 
would have been a great surprise to learn that ** Chippendale " 
styles, which he deemed buried beyond resurrection, 
would be equally pleasing a ceFitury after his own were de- 
servedly forgotten. It is remarkable that Chippendale 
might never have existed so far as Mr. Smith's generation 
was concerned. Eighteen vears later, he finds that he him- 
self has become antiquated, but takes comfort from the 
fact that perfection has at last been attained ! Describ- 
ing with some accuracy the sequence oi styles in Eng- 

417 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

lish furniture since the close of the carved-oak period, he 
says: 

" At this period (Louis XIV.) the whole system seems 
to have given place to a style completely Arabesque, al- 
though blended with much grandeur peculiar to this taste, 
and brought to great perfection by the artists then em- 
ployed in its manufacture. The importation of it into 
England changed the whole feature of design as it related 
to household furniture. This taste continued almost un- 
changed through the reign of George II. and the earlier 
part of George III. The elder Mr. Chippendale was, I 
believe, the first author who favoured the public with a 
work consisting of designs drawn from this school, with 
great merit to himself, however defective the taste of the 
time might be. To this work succeeded that of Mr. Ince 
in the same style. From this period to the time of 
Messrs. R. and J. Adam, the same species of design con- 
tinued, with little or no alteration, until the researches of 
these scientific gentlemen in architecture and ornament 
were made public. A complete revolution in the taste of 
design immediately followed : the heavy panelled wall, the 
deeply coffered ceiling, although they offered an imposing 
and grand effect, gave way to the introduction of a light 
Arabesque style and an ornament highly beautiful. But 
the period for the introduction of not only a chaste style in 
architecture, but likewise of ornament (and which extended 
to our domestic moveables) was reserved for the late Mr. 
James Wyatt, whose classic designs will carry his name to 
posterity with unimpaired approbation. Here it would ap- 
pear almost unnecessary for invention to have gone farther, 
but perfection, it appears, was reserved for this present 
period." 

438 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Apart from his book, which brought him into tem- 
porary prominence, Chippendale seems to have been an 
obscurely prosperous tradesman who catered to the tastes of 




IX)URLE CORNER CHAIR 
Owned by Mr. Walter Hotmer, Wethertfield, Conn. See (vige 460. 

ih'^ day. His biographer in the exhaustive Dictionary of 
National Biography can rind little more to say of him than 
that he flourished circa i 760. He was not the only suc- 
cessful member of his craft in London during the rirst half 
of the eighteenth century, if we may believe the following 
advertisement in a New York paper in 1771 : 

439 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

** To-morrow will be sold at public vendue at the Mer- 
chants' Coffee house at twelve o'clock by John Applegate, 
a very neat set of carved mahogany chairs, one carved and 
gilt sideboard table, and a Chinese hanging bookcase with 
several other things. N. B. The back of the chairs is done 
after the pattern of some of the (^leen's ; a sketch of which 
chair will be shown at the time of the sale. The chairs 
and other things were made by a person in the Jersies who 
served his time and afterwards was eleven years foreman to 
the great and eminent cabinet-maker, William Hallet, Esq.; 
that bought the line estate of the Duke of Shandos, called 
Cannon's, in Middlesex; was afterwards a master for about 
twenty years in London and hath been two years in the 
Jersies. He will receive any orders fip* furniture, viz., 
Plate cases or best Chinese hanging book-cases or on frames ; 
French elbow chairs, ribbon back, Gothic or any sort of 
chairs, likewise carved, glass frames, gerrandoles, bracket 
branches, etc." 

Who was Willim Hallet, Esq.? The great Dictionary 
is silent concerning him, notwithstanding his purchase of 
the tine estate of the Duke of Chandos. The "person in 
the Jersies " served him as foreman from 1738 to 1749. 
Were the chairs, with backs " done after the pattern of 
some of the (^een's," of Chippendale design ? If so, it ought 
to have been worth while to mention that fact if Chippen- 
dale was a recognized authority, and to have claimed the lat- 
ter as a master rather than ** the great and eminent cabinet- 
maker, William Hallet, Esq." Even if the advertisement 
was a catch-penny scheme, it is plain that in 1771 the 
name of Hallet was considered a better bait in New York 
than that of Chippendale ; and this was only nine years after 
the latter had issued the third edition of his book. It is 

440 







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CHIPPENDALE STANDS 
In Memorial Hall, Philadelphia, Pa. See page 459. 




SETTEE 

Chi-ned by Mrs. John Marshall Holcombe, Hartford, Conn. See page 459. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

also worthy of note that no tradesman whose advertisement 
I have seen in an American paper prior to the Revolution 
ever mentions the name of Chippendale in recommending 
home-made or imported furniture. 

We have now arrived at the following facts : before 
Chippendale brought out his book in 1754, he was no 
more prominent than many another prosperous cabinet- 
maker; thirty-five years later, whatever was original and 
peculiar to him in that work had become " wholly anti- 
quated and laid aside," and, lastly, he never attained such a 
commanding position in his profession or trade as did 
George Kent in his, for instance. 

We have seen that hitherto most of the new designs in 
furniture originated with artists or architects. Chippendale 
was only a not-very-eminent carver and cabinet-maker. 
The list of subscribers to his book includes, besides nobility, 
gentry, joiners and carpenters, eighty-three London cabinet- 
makers, ten carvers and two engravers. M. Darly is one 
of the engravers ; and W. Ince is one of the cabinet-makers. 
Ince was soon to publish an important book of designs to 
advertise the product of his own firm ; and Darly was Chip- 
pendale's assistant, who engraved and designed some of his 
plates. In \jj7,y\\G\>\xh\\\!hc6. A Complete Body of Architec- 
ture, " embellished with a great variety of ornaments, com- 
piled, drawn and engraved by Matthias Darly, Professor of 
Ornament." In the preface he says: "Ornamental draw- 
ing (drawing of ornament) has been too long neglected in 
this trading country and great losses have been sustained 
in many of our manufactures for want of it. On the 
knowledge of true embellishment depends the improve- 
ment of every article, and I do aver that this kingdom 
is more indebted to a Rich'd Langcake (who is now 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

teaching the art of design in France) than to a Sir Godfrey 
Kneller." 

Chippendale has evidently taken to heart Langley's 
savage attack on the Englivsh cabinet-makers for their ignor- 
ance of the sacred Five Orders (see page 425). It has 
been a puzzle to many critics to account for the fact that 
he devotes much space to elucidating that style of architec- 
ture and then proceeds to give designs of furniture in the 
prevailing bastard Gothic and Chinese taste, and ornament 
the rest with French Renaissance and rocaille details. When 
we remember Langley's wholesale condemnation, however, 
Chippendale's lip-service is perfectly explicable. In his 
preface, the latter says : 

" Of all the arts which are either improved or orna- 
mented by Architecture, that of Cabinet-making is not 
only the most useful and ornamental, but capable of re- 
ceiving as great Assistance from it as any whatever. I 
have therefore pretixed to the following designs a short 
Explanation of the Five Orders. Without an acquaintance 
with this Science and some Knowledge of the Rules of 
Perspective, the Cabinet-maker cannot make the Designs 
of his work intelligible, nor shew in a little Compass, the 
whole Conduct and Effect of the Piece. These, therefore, 
ought to be carefully studied by everyone who would 
excel in this Branch, since they are the very Soul and 
Basis of his Art." 

Having thus done his best to conciliate the architects, 
he proceeds to explain his purpose in publishing: 

** The Title-Page has already called the following 
Work, * The CJentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director,' as 
being calculated to assist the one in the Choice, and the 
other in the Execution of the Designs : Which are so 

442 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

contrived, that it no one Drawing should singly answer the 
CJentleman's Taste, there will yet be found a variety ot 
Hints sufhcient to construct a new one." 

" In other words, the main object is to induce the gentle- 
men to buy ! First discover which model he likes and 
then suit him with the enrichment ; the ornamentations are 
not necessarily individually appropriate, but are interchange- 
able. If his taste runs to the Chinese now in vogue, here 
is an assortment of frets from which to select ; if Ciothic, 
here are a few examples of window tracery; if he likes 
riorid carving, here is a storehouse of suggestions conveyed 
from the French Renaissance! 

" I have been encouraged to begin and carry on this 
Work not only by Persons of Distinction, but of eminent 
taste for Performances of this vsort ; who have, upon many 
Occasions, signified some Surprise and Regret, that an Art 
capable of so much Perfection and Retinement, should be 
executed with so little Propriety and Elegance. 

** Upon the whole, I have here given no Design but 
what may be executed with Advantage by the Hands of a 
skilful Workman, though some of the Profession have been 
diligent enough to represent them (especially those after the 
Gothic and Chinese Manner) as so many specious Draw- 
ings, impossible to be worked off" by any Mechanic what- 
soever. I will not scruple to attribute this to Malice, 
Ignorance, and Inability ; and I am confident I can con- 
vince all Noblemen, (Jentlcmen and others, who will honour 
me with their Commands, that every Design in the Book 
can be improved, both as to beauty and Enrichment, in the 
execution of it, by 

"Their most Obedient Servant, 
* ,... ** Thomas Chippendale." 

443 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

It is to be noted that though Chippendale puts forth 
these designs as within the ability of every good workman 
to execute, he does not pretend that they have already been 
produced, except in some instances which he specifies. In 




^-xj' 



CHAIR 
Owned by Mr. Stephen Schuyler, Schuyler House, Troy Road, New York. See page 464. 



many cases his words clearly imply that the designs have 
yet to take concrete form, and in at least two instances 
this is distinctly stated. Thus: "Gothic bookcase: one 
of the best of its kind, and would give me great pleasure 
to see it executed, as I doubt not its making an exceeding 
genteel and grand appearance." 

Another desk and bookcase is " in the Chinese taste 
and will look extremely well." Considering the "malice. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ignorance and inability " of his rivals, we should expect 
him to specify the designs that have actually been carried 
out, in refutation of their assertions, but he instances only 
the following : "A Design of a Dressing Table for a Lady. 
Two Dressing Tables have been made of Rosewood from 
this Design, which gave an entire satisfaction. All the 
Ornaments were gilt." 

" Design for a couch bed. . . . N. B. This couch 
was made for an alcove in Lord Pembroke's House, at 
Whitehall." " A bed that has been made for the Earls of 
Dumfries and Morton." 

" Three designs of chairs with Ribband Backs. Sev- 
eral sets have been made, which have given entire satisfac- 
tion." 

It is to be noted that though Chippendale insists on the 
practicabilitv of all his designs without exception, yet in his 
instructions he frequently recognizes that the carving may 
be excessive. He often says that the decoration may be 
reduced, if necessary, without diminishing the beauty of 
the design. A typical suggestion reads : ** The ornaments 
may be omitted if thought superHuous." Above all else, 
Chippendale was a carver and gilder : that fact is stamped 
on every plate. It would be almost impossible to over-esti- 
mate the importance he attaches to carving. A few exam- 
ples from his own instructions will make this clear : " A 
Design of a Sofa for a grand Apartment, and will require 
Great Care in the Execution, to make the several Parts 
come in such a Manner that all the Ornaments join with- 
out the least Fault ; and if the Embossments all along are 
rightlv managed, and gilt with burnished Gold, the whole 
will have a noble Appearance. The Carving at the Top 
is the Emblem of Watchfulness, Assiduity and Rest. The 

44S 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Pillows and Cushions must not be omitted, though they 
are not in the Design. I would advise the workman to 
make a model of it at large before he begins to execute it." 
Here not only the carver, but the sculptor and clay-mod- 
eller speaks ! ** Thirteen Designs of Cornices for Beds or 
Windows," some of them are crown-shaped, and the carved 
ornaments include the twisted leaf, urn plain and draped, 
eagle, birds billing, grotesque head, monkey holding a 
husk garland in his mouth, and birds with long tails and 
bills. Among eighteen other beds one ** may be gilt or 
covered with the same stuff as the curtains; " another has 
pillars "composed of reeds with a palm branch twisted 
round." Of a couch with canopy, he says: "If the cur- 
tains and valances are adorned with large gold fringe and 
tassels and the ornaments gilt with burnished gold, it will 
look very grand." A design for a commode table and two 
candle-stands is very ornate : " The Bas Relief in the Mid- 
dle may be carved in Wood or cast in Brass or painted on 
Wood or Copper. That part in the middle may be a door 
with ornaments on it and the End parts in the same man- 
ner. On the top of the commode is a design of a Sur-tout, 
to be made in Silver. A candlestand at each end is very 
proper." The commode contains a panel representing three 
naked boys playing and landscape behind them, framed in 
garlands. The " sur-tout " is a kind of candelabrum. One 
candlestand has dolphins at its base, their tails curling up- 
ward, and two boys climbing a tree above which are icicles 
or dropping water. The other represents a woman stand- 
ing upon a sort of stump and clasping a branch upon which 
the candlestand rests. 

" A Toilet or Dressing-box for a Lady. . . . The or- 
naments should be gilt in burnished gold, or the whole 

446 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

work may be Japanned and the drapery may be silk dam- 
ask with gold fringes and tassels." Another toilet: "The 
glass, made to come forward with folding Hinges is in a 
carved frame, and stands in a compartment that rests upon 
a plinth, between which are small drawers. The Drapery 




ONE OF A SET OF MAHOGANY CHAIRS 
Belonging to Prof. Henry P. Archer, Charleston, S. C. See page 464. 



is supported by Cupids, and the Petticoat goes behind the 
Feet of the Table, which looks better. The ornamental 
parts may be gilt in burnished gold or Japanned." A 
China case in the Chinese style, " may be of soft wood and 
Japanned, or painted and partly gilt." A china case " very 
proper for a lady's dressing-room may be made of any soft 
wood and Japanned any colour." Chandeliers: "They 
are generally made of glass and sometimes of brass. But 

447 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

if neatly done in wood, and gilt in burnished gold, would 
look better, and come much cheaper." Frame for marble 
slab supported by Caryatides, Dove Entablature with Trig- 
lyphs and Metopes, ram's head and garland. Another 
"supported by two piping Fauns, leaning against two vines, 
intermixed with foliage, etc. It will have a grand ap- 
pearance if executed with judgment and neatly gilt." One 
girandole " requires great care in the execution. The 
Imbossments must be very bold and the Foliage neatly laid 
down, and the whole properly relieved. The Top may be 
gilt, as likewise some of the other ornamental parts." 
Picture frames, elaborately carved with emblems appropri- 
ate to the subject on the canvas, were also gilded. Where 
gilding cannot be used, Chippendale obtains its effect by 
the free use of brass, the importance of which he strongly 
accentuates. 

A carver and gilder with a considerable leaven of up- 
holstery ! That is the impression gained from a careful pe- 
rusal of Chippendale's text. A maze of contours and forms, 
a haze of blue and red and a blaze of gold ! Carving and 
colour are the striking characteristics, and the carving con- 
tains exactly the same faults complained of by Meissonier's 
satirist. The crow with the cheese at the top of a mirror- 
frame is twice as big as the insidious fox below; in another, 
the bunch of grapes that the fox maligned is bigger than 
himself. It also hangs so close and so menacingly above 
him that he seems to be crawling from under it in appre- 
hension, though it is easily within his reach. It would be 
puzzling to account for the similarity between the decora- 
tive details of the work of Chippendale and that of a foreign 
master if neither could be shown to have borrowed from 
the other. It becomes a very simple matter, however, 

448 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

when we place the designs of the two side by side, and 
find that the chair that Meissonier designed for Mme. de 
Brezenval in 1735 (see page 432) is boldly transferred by 
Chippendale to his book without acknowledgment and is 
simply called a French chair. The form and carving are 
identical ; the only difference is that Chippendale adds an 
extra flourish where even Meissonier refrained. An ornate 
canape^ executed in 1735 for the Grand Marshal of Poland, 
is also manifestly the original of Chippendale's design of 
his "sofa for a grand apartment." In this case, however, 
he has stuffed the arms and added some carving on the top. 
Other designs of Meissonier's to which Chippendale is in- 
debted are the picture frames for the King's portrait and 
the Royal Hunt. Of these Chippendale has made free 
use. One of the trophies, consisting of a hunting-horn, 
stag's head, gun and net, pleases him sufficiently to be 
adopted in its entirety. Meissonier's designs, especially in 
his Livre de Legumes and Livre d'OmementSy contain chutes 
and swags of bell-Hower and laurel, shell-work, fountains, 
colonnades, balconies, balustrading, flights of steps, acanthus 
and other flowers, fruits, human figures, birds, animals, 
scroll-work, dripping and falling water, feathers, flags, 
musical instruments, weapons and implements. Some of 
the falling water and fragmentary peristyle effects of which 
Chippendale is so fond in his carved frames are particularly 
noticeable. Another plate that must have struck Chippen- 
dale's attention shows an elaborate surtout made for the 
Duke of Kingston in 1735. The ornamental details in- 
clude dripping water, fruits, fish, vegetables, dead game, 
shell, cupids and all the spiky scroll-work characteristic of 
Meissonier. It must be remembered that Chippendale's 
confessed aim is to serve the nobility and gentry. If the 

449 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

latter, therefore, show any marked favour to the work of 
a foreign artist, it surely would be worth while to follow 
in the latter's footsteps. Why should the Duke of Kings- 
ton and others be forced to go to Paris, when we have 
carvers in London who are perfectly able to do that kind 
of work, and when all the material is at hand for the most 
extravagant carved work that can be conceived? \i surtouts 
are in demand, Chippendale can supply a design for one in 
silver for the top of a commode. 

The design is found among MeivSsonier's plates, but 
Chippendale has introduced slight modifications in the 
proportions. Although Chippendale owed so much to 
Meissonier, he also went to others for inspiration. 
Marot's tall clock-cases were a great help in designing his 
own. The fluttering ribbon adopted in the backs of chairs 
occurs as a decorative accessory in a book of designs by 
Berain, Le Moyne and Chauveau, and is used by several 
of their successors ; and Boucher, Ranson and Lalond's book 
is a treasure-house of details for ornate beds and sofas. 
When, therefore, Chippendale says: **In executing many 
of the drawings, my pencil has but faintly copied out 
these images that my fancy suggested," he assumes more 
originality than he is justly entitled to. 

Carving was of supreme importance at this period. 
One of the early English books on furniture was published 
in 1739 by William Jones, an architect. The carver is 
the workman that he had chiefly in mind, the designs be- 
ing for chimney-pieces, slab-tables, pier-glasses, tabernacle- 
frames, ceilings, -etc. The same remark applies to Mathias 
Lock's New Book of Ornaments (London, 1752), and to 
several similar books that appeared before 1760 by 
Lairesse, Halfpenny, Swan, Edwards and Darly, Thomas 

450 



IB— 




if 




^^^Bi ""T 


Mii^^i 


^H^^r\ IV^AhhhhA'' 'MM 





BOOKCASE AND SECRETARY 

Otvned by Miss Jessie Colby ^ Neiv Tork. See page 45g, 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Johnson, William Jones and A. Rossis. Lairesse, Lock 
and Johnson were carvers only. We have already seen 
that able carvers of this school came to the colonies. A 
notice of an elaborate piece of wood-carving by one ol 
these appears in the Maryland Gazette for January 7, 1762. 
It is worth quoting here: 




SCREEN, TABLE THAT BELONGED TO REBECCA MOTTE, AND CHAJR 
Owned by Miw Susan Pringle, Charleston, S. C See page 471. 



"Last month died here, Mr. Henry Crouch, Carver, 
who was deemed by good judges to be as ingenious an artist 
at his business as any in the king's dominions. Some months 
before he died, he employed himself in cutting or raising out 
of the solid wood, a number of figures to put over a mantle 
piece. In the centre, sits Britannia on a pedestal (to which 
hangs a medal with the bust of Mr. Pitt) amid the trophies 
of war, with a sceptre in one of her hands, and an olive branch 

4S« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

in the other ; on her right, in a prostrate posture, is a female 
figure representing France, offering a scroll at the feet of 
Britannia ; a little further off lies a figure representing 
Envy, struck dead by Jupiter, who sits above with a pair 
of scales in his hand ; on the same side is Ceres with the 
Cornucopia pouring out her plenty to Britannia ; Fame with 
her trumpet ; and several other curious figures. On the left 
of Britannia, is Victory introducing Peace ; Minerva ; For- 
titude ; Neptune ; Mercury ; and sundry other figures ; old 
Time above, with a scythe in one hand and a pair of callipers 
in the other, measuring the globe. It has a neat carved 
border, and canopy at top, with curtains folded. The 
whole executed in so masterly a taste, and with such sym- 
metry of parts, that it would be an ornament even in a 
palace. And although Mr. Crouch had very little notice 
taken of him, and lived somewhat obscurely, yet it must be 
allowed, that He Cut A Good Figure In Life." 

The question now arises : " What is Chippendale fur- 
niture ? " Judging from his own text, he scarcely made 
any use of mahogany. That wood is mentioned only once : 
** Six designs of chairs for halls, passages or summer-houses. 
They may be made either of mahogany, or any other wood, 
and painted, and have commonly wooden seats." Marquetry, 
or any enrichment by inlaying or painting, is never used : 
Chippendale takes no more notice of it than if it had never 
existed. For his effects, he depends entirely on the beauty 
of tapestry and other coverings and drapery, bright metal 
mounts, and, above all, carving and gilding. The amount 
of skilled labour required in the execution of the designs in 
his book naturally rendered that class of furniture very ex- 
pensive, and therefore within the means of the rich only. 
Consequently, relatively little of such ornate work was ever 

45* 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

produced ; it was all made to order, and it is doubtful if a 
single piece after these designs that issued from Chippen- 
dale's workshop ever crossed the Atlantic. It would be an 
error, however, to assume that he confined his labours to 
furniture of such florid ornamentation. The mere fjict that 
he had supplied several members of the aristocracy with 
chairs and beds of his own design shows that he was a cabi- 
net-maker of some standing and had worked up a prosper- 
ous business. The furniture that he had been making for 
many years, in common with many others of his craft, was 
so well known that there would have been no novelty in 
including those designs in his book : he could not claim 
any credit from existing styles. His originality lies in the 
elaboration of those models ; and yet posterity calls nearly 
all the developments of Queen Anne styles by his name. 
He probably continued making the old furniture for cus- 
tomers of moderate means until the end of his life. In 
South Kensington Museum, there are heavy chairs with the 
strongly accented cabriole curves in the legs, and plain 
club, hoof, or ball-and-claw feet, sometimes entirely desti- 
tute of carving, that are attributed to all dates up to 1780. 
Not a single table or chair in his book shows the legs or 
feet that occur so often among our illustrations and are con- 
sidered as so distinctly " Chippendale." Feet like those on 
pages 276 and 277 never occur in his book ; and the ball- 
and-claw is only found once, and that is on a tea-caddy 
which is of such little importance as to be ignored in his 
notes and descriptions of the plates. The lion's paw on a 
flattened bulb or pad appears on a desk and book-case, a 
bed, and a " French " chair. It is noticeable, however, 
that all these plates are dated 1753 and are therefore among 
his earliest. The only hoof-feet figured are those of a goat 

4S3 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

that terminate the legs of a toilet-table, and in this case 
there is a reason for their presence, since satyrs are carved 
on the cabriole curves above. When, therefore, writers tell 




FIELD BED 
Owned by Stephen Girard, now in Girard College, Philadelphia. Sec page 472. 

US that Chippendale was especially fond of the ball-and-claw 
foot, it is plain that they have in mind the general furniture 
of the day that he and his contemporaries made for the mul- 
titude, and not the especial furniture of French ornamen- 
tation that he wanted to make for the fashionable world. 

4S4 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

On looking through the first edition of Chippendale's 
book, we cannot fail to notice the preponderance of Chi- 
nese and Gothic designs. There are no less than twenty- 
eight of the former and twenty of the latter so designated, 
and, in addition to these, we find two Gothic library book- 
cases and three Gothic sideboard tables. Four hanging- 
shelves and several " China shelves,"candle stands and fire- 
screens are distinctly Chinese, as is also a " library case and 
book-case," while a number of " gerandoles," pier-glass 
frames and "frames for marble slabs" (console-tables) are 
adorned with whimsical Chinese ornaments and figures. 
Gothic and Chinese cornices also appear. The fret, Gothic 
or Chinese, and sometimes a mixture of both styles, occurs 
as a border upon tea-trays, tables, bookcases, chests-of-draw- 
ers, dressing-cases, cabinets, clothes-chests, hanging-selves, 
clock-cases, fire-screens, etc., etc. 

The student must keep in mind the fact that Chippen- 
dale does not attempt to give illustrations of the ordinary 
styles of furniture that he and others were making. If we 
were to try to form any idea of contemporary furniture by 
his book alone, we should say that he knew nothing of 
Windsor chairs, or round-about chairs, or arm-chairs, or 
wing-chairs, or rocking-chairs, or foot-stools, or washstands, 
or knife-boxes, or dining-tables, or corner cupboards, or 
work-tables, or dumb-waiters, or cradles, or press-bedsteads, 
or spinets. We should say that turned work was unknown ; 
that the chairs never had horizontal bars in the backs, 
either plain or pierced ; that they never had shaped un- 
pierced splats ; that stretchers were of very rare occurrence ; 
and that the furniture was never inlaid, but carved with 
Gothic, Chinese and Louis (^linze ornaments exclusively. 
We cannot help regretting that he did not give us exam- 

455 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

pies of what was already in fashion, instead of what he 
would like to introduce. In France, the works of Boucher 
Jils and NeufForge give an exact idea of the interiors of their 
day ; they represent the singular forms of the Louis Quinze 
period, and are not the rich and excessively ornate style 
found in Salembier, Cauvet and others. It is only Chip- 
pendale's chairs, however, that retain much semblance to 
their parent stock, and it is precisely because he restrained 
his exuberance to some extent and retained the general 
outlines that had gradually developed, that they have en- 
dured, while his Gothic and Chinese novelties and extrav- 
agances were soon forgotten. His patterns are all devel- 
opments of the crown-back and the "embowed " or bow- 
topped chair (see pages 276 and 337). He paid great 
attention to the proportion between the splat and the open 
spaces on either side (the outlines of the splat keeping 
somewhat closely to the old jar form), and then pierced 
the splat in various patterns of tracery which he still 
further enriched with ornamental carving. In his designs, 
the old cabriole curves and heaviness of the legs are greatly 
reduced, and the general effect is one of much greater 
lightness than most of our illustrations. Most of the latter 
belong to the school from which his own were developed, 
and to his own early period. The designs in the back of the 
"Chippendale" chair are innumerable, though they all 
have a family likeness. Of those that appear here, the 
chair belonging to Miss Sherburne (see page 41 3) is, per- 
haps, the nearest in design to any in Chippendale's book. 

Between the first and the third edition of Chippen- 
dale's book, works were published on the same subject by 
T. Johnson, Edwards and Darly, Ince and Mayhew and 
The Society of Upholsterers. They all give designs of 

456 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

what to-day we should call Chippendale furniture, but in 
his last edition the latter makes no complaint that others 
were copying him. Ince and Mayhew devote a number 
of plates to Gothic and Chinese designs for the prevailing 




CHAIRS FROM THE DINING-ROOM OF THE VAN RENSSELAER MANOR 

HOUSE 
Owned by Mr. WiUiam Bayard Van Ren«»elaer, Albany, N. V. See page 469. 



taste, and Louis (^inze ornamentation is adopted by them 
all. 

We cannot hope to find any of the furniture answering 
to Chippendale's published designs in this country, with the 
exception of his chairs and simpler forms of tables, book- 
cases, etc. An examination of the furniture in South Ken- 
sington that is confidently attributed to Chippendale shows 

♦ S7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

that it is entirely different in character to what appears 
in his book. Some of the varieties of mirrors made dur- 
ing the eighteenth century face page 450. Even the most 
ornate of these has much less intricate carving than Chip- 
pendale frequently designs. 

A plate with three pieces of such ordinary furniture 
as came from Chippendale's workshop faces page 438. 
On the left is a mahogany square table with pierced gal- 
lery; it is supported by one baluster leg with tripod 
cabriole feet ending in claws and carved with the acanthus 
leaf ornament. It was made about 1 740. In the middle 
is a mahogany writing-cabinet with folding flap and 
drawers, the interior being fitted with pigeon-holes and re- 
ceptacles for writing materials. It is supported by four 
cabriole legs with claw-and-ball feet carved with the 
acanthus leaf and mounted with brass lock-plates, 
handles and escutcheons. It was made about 1750. It 
will be noticed that here, as in most cases, Chippendale 
has introduced no new form. The Museum possesses a 
similar writing-case of the Anglo-Dutch school of about 
1 700. It is almost identical with that belonging to Wil- 
liam Penn facing page 82. The third piece is a mahog- 
any table. It is eight-foil in shape, with a raised and 
moulded edge, and is carved in the centre with a leaf, floral 
and diaper ornament. Like the other table, it is sup- 
ported by one baluster leg with tripod cabriole feet ending 
in ball-and-claws, and ornamented with carved acanthus. 
It was made before 1750. A somewhat similar table is in 
possession of Mr. H. E. Bowles of Boston. 

A handsome bookcase and secretary of this period, be- 
longing to Miss Sherburne, Warner House, Portsmouth, 
N. H., faces page 432. When let down, the leaf forms a 

45» 




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THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

writing slab that is lower than usual. The little pillars in 
the front conceal the usual secret receptacles. This is a 
beautifully proportioned piece of furniture with handsome 
brasses and a band of carving below the cornice. Another 
mahogany bookcase and secretary, belonging to Miss Jes- 
sie Colby, New York, faces page 454. The doors of the 
bookcase have characteristic Gothic window tracery and 
the pigeon holes have Gothic outlines, while the pediment 
is Classic and the feet are carved. When closed, the bureau 
looks like a chest with four drawers. The little knobs of 
the interior drawers are of ivory and the light facing is of 
satin-wood. The Heppelwhite chair standing beside it 
gives an idea of the unusual height of this piece. 

Three characteristic Chippendale pieces from the Me- 
morial Hall, Philadelphia, face page 448. In the centre 
is a mahogany lamp-stand with a hexagonal top surrounded 
by a carved and pierced gallery. The height of the sup- 
porting column is 3 feet jYj inches, the spread of the tripod 
ball-and-claw feet 20 inches, and the diameter of the top 
I-; I J inches. The small mahogany tea-kettle stand to the 
left is of the same period. The octagonal top with a raised 
edge is 16 inches in diameter. It is only 24 inches high. 
On the same plate is a handsome Chippendale mahogany 
settee, belonging to Mrs. John Marshall Holcombe of 
Hartford. It is in the form of a double armchair with 
moulded and carved backs terminating in scrolls and open- 
work back panels carved. South Kensington pos.sesses several 
pieces of this character attributed to dates between i 750 
and 1770. 

A settee of very similar character faces page 434. It 
originally belonged to John Hancock and is now in the 
rot)ms of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, 

459 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Mass. The carved heads that terminate the arms are almost 
identical with those on the chair on page 65. They may 
also be compared with the carved Chinese chair facing 
page 424. The frame is of walnut. The mahogany articles 
on the plate facing page 440 also belong to Mrs. John 
Marshall Holcombe of Hartford. To the left is a table 
with shaped top and turned baluster supported by three 
"snake feet;" the centre table is carved with a coat-of- 
arms, the initials M. E. and the date 1748. To the right 
is a tea-kettle stand with pierced gallery and carved cabriole 
ball-and-claw feet. These tables are all small, and good 
specimens of Chippendale's ordinary work. 

Most of the chairs reproduced in this part are of the 
most familiar Chippendale patterns. The openwork in 
the backs closely resembles the designs published by Chip- 
pendale, though none are identical with those. The ma- 
hogany chair on page 420, owned by Mrs. John Bleecker 
Miller, New York, is interesting because of the pierced frets 
in the stretchers, which Chippendale would sometimes call 
Chinese and sometimes Gothic. The same pattern repeated 
in the legs is also characteristic of Chippendale chairs. 
The chair, however, is said to have formed part of the dowry 
of Cornelia Harring of Holland, who was married in 1765 
to the Hon. Samuel Jones, Recorder of New York. 

The corner, or round-about, chair has already been illus- 
trated. The semi-circular back consisting of a top rail, sup- 
ported by three turned columns and ornamentally pierced 
panels, and square seat with movable stuffed cushion is often 
found ; but it is quite unusual to find the back raised an- 
other stage to form a more comfortable big armchair, as 
in the exceedingly fine example owned by Mr. Walter 
Hosmer in Wethersfield, Conn. (See page 439.) 

460 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

On page 435 are four chairs from the South Kensing- 
ton Museum. The one on the extreme right is a Shera- 
ton model ; the two in the centre are characteristic Chip- 
pendales. The chair next to the Sheraton is of mahogany, 



MAHOGANY CHAIR 
Owned by Dr. George Rou, Richmond, Va. Sec page 471. 

the back having a central support carved with floral and 
leaf ornament and pierced ; the front legs and outside bars 
of the back are fluted, the front legs being of square sec- 
tion and the back legs are curved and joined to the front by 
cross bars. The seat is covered with red leather held by 
brass studs. This is said to be in Chippendale's style late 
in the century. To the left is one of the earlier design. 
The arms are lower and the model is less elegant; but 

461 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

neither of these shows Chippendale at his best, for the pro- 
portion of open spaces on either side of the splat shows 
lack of the taste usually displayed. A model which does 
not appear in Chippendale's book, but which is always at- 
tributed to him, is illustrated on page 433. It is of ma- 
hogany with an open back consisting of moulded sides, 
pierced wavy top rail, and three horizontal back bars of 
similar shape and piercing. It has square, tapering front 
legs, curved back legs and plain stretchers. The date is 
about 1750. The four-back chair, of which this is a de- 
velopment, at a very early date had inlaid patterns similar 
to the piercing in this example. This belonged to the 
Visscher family of Albany. The table is a Heppelwhite, 
the legs being inlaid with the favourite chute of the bell- 
flower in satin-wood. This was owned by the Ten Eyck 
family. Both pieces belong to Miss Ten Eyck in Albany. 

On page 429 are three chairs. The centre one is a 
good model of Chippendale's best style, showing well-pro- 
portioned light and dark spaces. The chairs on either side, 
which belonged to the Fletcher family, are also frequently 
called Chippendale models, but they more properly belong 
to the Sheraton school, for it is well known that Chippen- 
dale abhorred the straight line and generally waved the tops 
of his chairs. 

A handsomely carved chair, said to have come from 
Hampton Court Palace and now in possession of Mr. 
Charles R. Waters of Salem, Mass., appears on page 423. 
The centre panel is carved and pierced with a complex 
knot, rosette and frill. The top rail is bow-shaped with a 
carved centre and leaf-scroll ends. There is a chair with a 
splat identical with this in South Kensington. The date 
given is about 1740. 

461 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Two mahogany chairs on page 417 belong to Mrs. 
Wainwright in Hartford, Conn. The one on the left is 
early, the shell being carved in the centre of the front rail, 
as in so many of the early cases of drawers. The tracery 
in the splat is similar to a model in South Kensington 
dated 1732. The difference in the curves of the arms of 
these two chairs is worth notice. The second one is simi- 




ADAM CHAIRS 
Owned by the Duke of Devoiuhire. Sec page 469. 



lar to models dated about 1750. The tracery of the chair 
on the left, consisting of intersecting bands, should also be 
compared with two mahogany chairs owned by Stephen 
Cfirard, reproduced on page 414. 

Other chairs, with the pattern consisting of bands inter- 
lacing a hollow diamond, are on page 427. These origin- 
ally belonged to Philip Van Rensselaer, and are now owned 
by Mrs. Edward Rankin at Cherry Hill^ Albany, N. Y. 
Another chair almost identical with these is on page 409. 
It is from the Glen-Sanders House, Scotia, New York. 

463 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Other variants of these patterns appear on pages 444 
and 447, showing chairs of the period. The first belongs 
to Mr, Stephen Schuyler, Troy Road, N. Y. ; the second 
to Prof. Henry P. Archer, of Charleston, S. C. This is 
similar to the chairs already represented on page 148. 

Two other Chippendale chairs appear with a sideboard 
facing page 480. The backs are almost square and the 
splat is pierced vertically. The South Kensington authori- 
ties date this model about 1 740. 

The sideboard, facing page 480, belongs to George 
Dagworthy Mayo, Esq., of Richmond, Va., and has been 
in the Mayo family for six generations. It is of mahogany 
inlaid with various coloured woods. 

In 1773, appeared The Works in Architecture of Robert 
and James Adam, in the preface of which we read : " The 
novelty and variety of the following designs will not only 
excuse but justify our conduct in communicating them to 
the world. We have not trod in the path of others, nor 
derived aid from their labours. In the works which we 
have had the honour to execute, we Have not only met 
with the approbation of our employers, but even with the 
imitation of other artists, to such a degree, as in some 
measure to have brought about, in this country, a kind of 
revolution in the whole system of this useful and elegant art. 

" To enter upon an enquiry into the state of this art in 
Great Britain, till the late changes it has undergone, is no 
part of our present design. . . . If we have any claim to 
approbation, we found it on this alone: That we have 
been able to seize, with some degree of success, the beauti- 
ful spirit of antiquity, and to transfuse it with novelty and 
variety, through all our numerous works." 

The Adam brothers were great admirers of the French 

464 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

architecture, and in their book they pay a special tribute 
to it. 

While not corresponding precisely with the Louis XVI. 
style, the Adam style is similar in many respects. The 




HEPPELWHITE CHAIR 
In the houw of Mr. Charles R. Waten, Salem, Man. See page 471. 



Straight line, the arabesque scrollwork, the resplendent use 
of ormoulu^ the gaiety and lightness, and the formality are 
common to both. 

It has been aptly said that the essence of the Adam 
style is " simplicity, elegant slenderness, and low relief." 
The urn is a singularly important ornament and the urn 
shape is seen everywhere. Other favourite details of orna- 
mentation are the bell-Hower or husk appearing on the 

465 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

legs of furniture and frequently looped in festoons around 
girondelles, tripods, or in panels and ceilings ; delicate 
scrolls ; swags of drapery ; the fluted shell ; ovals and circu- 
lar medallions containing paintings ; patera, or rosettes ; 
the ram's head ; trophies ; fans ; Greek and Roman vases ; 
wreaths ; the honeysuckle ; musical instruments ; loops and 
bows of ribbon ; the acanthus ; the sunflower ; Greek bor- 
ders ; goats ; centaurs ; fawns ; caryatides ; sea-horses ; grif- 
fins ; sphinxes ; dolphins ; and figures half-human, half-foli- 
age. Sometimes Adam employed heraldic devices in his 
ornamentation, to please the family who had ordered the 
work ; for example, the deer's head is used for Lord Mans- 
field. He is also fond of lions' and eagles' claws for feet. 

The Adam furniture was very rich and costly. It was 
cold, formal, and ornate, although colour played no little 
part in the scheme. Lord Derby's " great withdrawing- 
room " is described by the designers as follows : " The 
ornaments of the ceiling and entablature are chiefly of stucco 
gilt, with a mixture of paintings. The grounds are covered 
with various tints. The frames for glasses, the pedestals 
and vases in the niches, and the girondelles on the piers, are 
of wood gih. This room is hung with satin, and is un- 
doubtedly one of the most elegant in Europe, whether we 
consider the variety or the richness of its decorations." The 
chimney-piece in this room was of " statuary marble, inlaid 
with various coloured scagliola and brass ornaments, gilt in 
ortnoulu. The glass frame over it is carved in wood and gilt." 

The ornaments of the ceiling in the Countess of Derby's 
dressing-room were partly in stucco and " partly painting, 
the colouring of the Etruscans." An ornate commode was 
also designed for this room in harmony with the walJ 
decorations. 

♦64 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

It is certain that the Adam brothers made no furniture, 
although they designed sofas, chairs, tables, sideboard tables, 
etc., etc. They even went so far, in their wish to make 
the room in perfect harmony, as to design the locks and 
handles for the doors. The vase and urn not only appear 




HEPPELWHITE CHAIRS BELONGING TO THE TEN BROECK AND 

GLEN-SANDERS FAMILIES 
Now owned by Dr. Heiman T. Myndene, Schenectady, N. Y. Seepage 471. 

as motives of decoration, but the Adams were fond of hol- 
lowing out niches to contain pedestals bearing vases, which 
they also designed. 

They also give " a design of a glass frame and com- 
mode table ; upon which is placed a clock and vases, with 
branches for candles. These were executed for us in wood 
gilt, except the vases, which were of silver." Here the 
vases arc urns standing upon griffins that sit back to back. 

4*7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The mirror is in two pieces, and ornamented across the 
join with griffins, swinging lamps and swags of the bell- 
flower or husk. On the same plate are shown four other 
designs for candlesticks. One is a tripod six feet high, 
made in ormoulu^ and decorated with ram's heads and swags 
of the bell-flower, supporting a vase that holds three candle- 
sticks. Another, of the same height, carries two candles, 
and is decorated with the heads of women. The vase hold- 
ing the candles is surmounted by a sphinx. The other two 
are brackets and vases holding candles. The branches of 
one are of the acanthus and are decorated by strings of the 
bell-flower caught in the mouth of a child's head in the 
centre of the vase ; the second vase is ornamented with 
ram's heads and graceful festoons of grapes and grape- 
leaves. One of the plates shows a sideboard table which 
is called a bufl^et. It has neither back nor drawers. A 
wine-cooler, or cistern, stands below it, and upon it stand 
two knife-boxes. The silver upon it is arranged in the most 
formal manner. There are six wine-cups, two ewers, and 
four vases. The knife-boxes are open, and handsome plates 
stand upright upon the tops of them. Three lamps shown 
also in his book prove that Adam did not, however much he 
might condemn the taste of the past, withstand the Chinese 
influence. In these he has used the umbrella many times 
and very charmingly, and from the mouths of dolphins there 
hangs a string of little bells. 

The Adam style spread to America, although not in its 
most gorgeous manifestation, but it was only natural that 
the wealthy Englishmen settled here temporarily or perma- 
nently should have the desire to keep up with the fashions 
at home. There were many of the homes in the Southern 
colonies that were decorated with stucco work, and we have 

468 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

a special instance in two houses of Sir Charles Frankland. 
One on Garden Court Street and Bell Alley, Boston, was 
built in 1765. 

Two mahogany chairs in the Adam style, but without 
the enrichment, have already appeared facing page i 1 2. 
This model dates from about 1 770. A similar one, from 
a private collection, with applied ornaments in ormoulu, 
appears with two other Adam chairs on page 463. The date 
of the two latter is about i 800. Two more chairs of later 
development of this form are given on page 457. They are 
from the Van Rensselaer Manor House and are owned by 
Mr. William Bayard Van Rensselaer, Albany, N. Y. The 
mahogany sofa facing page 472 has some of the Adam 
characteristics, especially the ram's head, the general shape 
of the legs (though the Adam leg is usually reeded) and the 
general outline of the frame. This piece is said to have 
belonged to Robert Morris and is now owned by the 
Misses Comegys, Philadelphia. 

T^lie Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer s Guide ^ by A. Hep- 
pelwhite 6c Co. (1788), is the next work that claims at- 
tention. The authors say in their preface : 

** We have exerted our utmost endeavours to produce a 
work which shall be useful to the mechanic and serviceable 
to the gentleman. With this view, after having fixed upon 
such articles as were necessary to a complete suit of furni- 
ture, our judgment was called forth in selecting such pat- 
terns as were most likely to be of general use and convey 
a just idea of English taste in furniture. 

" English taste and workmanship have,of late years, been 
much sought for by surrounding nations ; and the muta- 
bility of all things, but more especially of fashions, has 
rendered the labour of our predecessors in this line of little 

♦69 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

use ; nay, at this day, they can only tend to mislead those 
foreigners, who seek a knowledge of English taste in the 
various articles of household furniture. 

** The same reason in favour of this work, will apply 
also to many of our own Countrymen and Artizans, whose 
distance from the metropolis makes even an imperfect 
knowledge of its improvements acquired with much trouble 
and expense. Our labours will, we hope, tend to remove 
this difficulty ; and as our ideas of the useful was such 
articles as are generally serviceable in genteel life, we flat- 
ter ourselves the labour and pains we have bestowed on this 
work will not be considered as time uselessly spent. 

" To Residents in London, though our drawings are 
all new, yet, as we designedly followed the latest or most 
prevailing fashions only, purposely omitting such articles, 
whose recommendation was mere novelty, and perhaps a 
violation of all established rule, and steadily adhered to 
such articles only ^s are of general use and service, one 
principle hope for favour and encouragement will be, in 
having combined near three hundred different patterns for 
furniture in a small space, and at a small price. In this 
instance we hope for reward ; and though we lay no claim 
to extraordinary merit in our designs, we flatter ourselves 
they will be found serviceable to young workmen in gen- 
eral, and occasionally to more experienced ones." 

It will be noticed that Heppelwhite claims very little 
originality for himself, or rather for. his firm ; that the 
designs selected conform to, or accord with, the taste of 
the hour ; that the productions of his predecessors have 
passed entirely out of fashion ; and that there has been a 
demand for Englivsh furniture in other countries for several 
years. 

470 




5 
§•5 



8 



^ i 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The first thing that strikes our attention, on examining 
his plates, is that the straight line has taken the place of 
the curve, especially in the leg of the chair and table, and 
that there is a general feeling of slenderness in many of the 
patterns. The only time the claw-foot appears is on the 
foot of a bed pillar, and it is very roughly carved. The 
ball never occurs. The chair, the sofa and the sideboard 
seem to have been Heppelwhite's especial delight. He 
has a special fondness for shaping the back of his chairs 
like a shield and placing a pierced splat in the centre, or 
several horizontal and curved bars. These he calls ** ban- 
ister-back chairs," typical specimens of which appear on 
page 467. These belong to Dr. Herman V. Mynderse, 
Schenectady, N. Y. Other chairs appear on pages 461 
and 465. The first belongs to Dr. George Ross, Rich- 
mond, Va., and the second to Mr. Charles R. Waters, 
Salem, Mass. The former chair came from Powhatan' s 
Seaty Va., the home of the Mayos. 

The legs are usually the tapering " term ; " are some- 
times fluted and sometimes inlaid half-way down with the 
husk or bell-flower, and most frequently end in the term 
or " spade foot." The covering, whether of silk, linen, or 
leather, is fastened over the front rail by one or two rows 
of evenly studded brass nails, and upon the back of the 
chair appear such ornaments as the urn, with or without 
drapery, the lotus, the bell-flower, the acanthus, the rosette, 
the shell, and very often three feathers out of compliment 
to the Prince of Wales. Chairs with stufl^ed backs he calls 
" cabriole chairs " and two of the designs ** have been exe- 
cuted with good efl^ect for his Royal Highness the Prince 
of Wales. The enrichments may be either carved, carved 
and gilt, or japanned." His stuffed chairs have, as a rule, 

47 • 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

very short arms, and sometimes the backs are surmounted 
by the famous three feathers, an urn, or a bow of ribbon. 
A typical Heppelwhite stuffed chair appears on page 
451 with a table that belonged to Rebecca Motte, a Revo- 
lutionary heroine of South Carolina, and a fire-screen of 
this period. These pieces are owned by Miss Susan Prin- 
gle, Charleston, S. C. A "Field bed " with one of Hep- 



mm^jjfj^W!^ 




SOFA 
Belonged to Samuel Barron, now in the rooms of the Antiquarian Society, Concord, Mass. See below. 

pelwhite's characteristic "sweeps" is reproduced on page 
454. It was owned by Stephen Girard anc^ is now in 
Girard College, Philadelphia. 

A sofa with mixed Heppelwhite and Sheraton charac- 
teristics appears on this page. It was probably made by a 
native cabinet-maker, and belonged to Samuel Barron. It 
is now in the rooms of the Antiquarian Society, Concord, 
Mass. An interesting sofa faces page 466. It was bought 
by Perry G. Childs, Esq., at the sale of Colonel Benjamin 
Walker's effects in Utica soon after his death in 18 18. It 
is said to have belonged to Baron Steuben, the Revolution- 

47* 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ary hero, on whose staff Colonel Walker served, and one of 
whose executors he was. It is now owned by Mr. Child's 
grand-daughter, Mrs. John Stebbins, who owns and occu- 
pies his old home, Willowbank^ Cazenovia, N. Y. 




TWO CHAIRS AND A LETTER-CASE 
Owned by MU» Anne Van Cortlandt. Croton-on-Hudson, N. V. See page 484. 

His Confidante and Duchesse sofas, desks and book- 
cases, tables and beds, will be dealt with in the last chapter 
of this book. We must mention here, however, the side- 
board, which is no longer a table, but has developed into 
a piece of furniture with drawers and compartments. 
•* The great utility of this piece of furniture," Heppel- 
white remarks, " has procured it a very general reception ; 
and the conveniences it affords render a dining-room in- 

473 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

complete without a sideboard." He gives several designs 
showing their internal construction, with compartments for 
wine bottles and drawers for cloth and napkins. In one 
he has a drawer " lined with green cloth to hold plate, etc., 
under a cover " ; and another, lined with lead for the con- 
venience of holding water to wash glasses, etc. "There 
must be a valve cock or plug at the bottom to let off the 
dirty water; and also in the other drawer, to change the 
water necessary to keep the wine, etc., cool ; or they may 
be made to take out. ' The Heppelwhite sideboard stands 
on tapering legs and has a serpentine front. Its ornaments 
are carved, painted or inlaid in variously coloured woods, 
and the designs are rosettes, urns, wreaths, and the husk or 
bell-flower. "They are often made," he says, "to fit into 
a recess ; but the general custom is to make them from 
55^ to 7 feet long, 3 feet high, and from 28 to 32 inches 
wide." 

A handsome sideboard of the Heppelwhite school faces 
page 470. This, as well as the knife-boxes upon it, be- 
longed ro Gen. Samuel Ten Broeck (1745— 182 1), and was 
in the Calendar House at Clermont, N. Y. These pieces 
are now owned by his descendants. Dr. Herman V. Myn- 
derse, Mr. William Livingston Mynderse, and Miss Helen 
Livingston Mynderse, in Schenectady, N. Y. The side- 
board is mahogany inlaid with satin-wood ornaments, con- 
sisting of the husk, or bell-flower, on the legs, and the 
shell-fluting in the corners of the doors. The foot is the 
"term" or "spade" of which Heppelwhite was so fond. 

He also gives sideboards without drawers, and when 
these are used in spacious dining-rooms they are accompa- 
nied by pedestals and vases, one being placed at each end 
of the sideboard. One pedestal, lined with tin, serves as 9 

47* 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

plate-warmer, being provided with racks and a stand for a 
heater. The other pedestal is a pot-cupboard. ** The vases 
may be used to hold water for the use of the butler, or 
iced water for drinking, which is inclosed in an inner par- 




SHERATON CHAIR 
Owned by the Colonial Dames, Baltimore, Md. See page 484. 



tition, the ice surrounding it; or may be used as knife- 
cases, in which case they are made of wood, carved, painted 
or inlaid ; if used for water, may be made of wood or cop- 
per japanned. The height of the pedestal is the same as 
the sideboard, and i6 or i8 inches square; the height of 
the vase about 2 feet 3 inches." 

Where sideboards are without drawers, the cellarets, or 
gardes dc vin^ appear. "These are made of mahogany, and 
hooped with brass lacquered ; the inner part is divided 

47$ 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

with partitions and lined with lead for bottles; may be 
made of any shape." Upon Heppelwhite's sideboard, the 
knife-case was always present, ** made of mahogany, satin 
or other wood at pleasure." "Vase knife cases" (of the 
shape that faces page 130) are "usually made of satin or 
other light-coloured wood, and may be placed at each end 
on the sideboard, or on a pedestal ; the knives, etc., fall 
into the body of the vase, the top of which is kept up by 
a small spring which is fixed to the stem which supports 
the top; may be made of copper painted and japanned." 

Tea-chests, tea-caddies, urn-stands, brackets, terms for 
busts, cornices, girandoles, reading-stands, shaving-stands, 
hanging-shelves, and bed pillars, all come in for their 
share of attention in Heppelwhite's book. 

Heppelwhite lasted but three years, for we have already 
seen on page 436 that Sheraton says in his preface that that 
cabinet-maker had "caught the decline" of popular taste. 
The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer s Drawing-Book appeared 
in 1 79 1 . Previous to this, he had published eighty-four 
Designs for Furniture which are undated, but they are thought 
to have been issued about 1 790, when he settled in Soho, 
London. He also published The Cabinet Dictionary (1803) 
and The Cabinet-Maker^ Upholsterer, and General Artist' s 
Encycloptedia ( 1804—7). 

In the Gentletnans Maga2:.ine for 1806, we read: " In 
Broad Street, Soho, after a few days' illness of a phrenitis, 
aged ^^y Mr. Thomas Sheraton, a native of Stockton-upon- 
Tees, and for many years a journeyman cabinet-maker, 
but who, since about the year 1793, has supported him- 
self, a wife, and children, by his exertions as an author. 
In 1793, he published a work in two volumes, 4to, intitled 
The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer s Drawing-Book, to which 

476 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

is prefixed a numerous list of subscribers, including almost 
all the principal cabinet-makers in town and country. 
Since that time he has published 30 numbers in folio, of a 
work intended to be completed in 125 numbers, entitled 
The Cahinet-Maker ami Artist's Encyclopfedia^ of which he 
sold nearly a thousand copies. In order to increase the 
number of subscribers to this work, he had lately visited 
Ireland, where he obtained the sanction of the Lord Lieu- 
tenant, the Marchioness of Donegal, and other distinguished 
persons. He was a very honest, well-disposed man, of an 
acute and enterprising disposition ; but, like many other 
self-taught authors shewed the want of a regular education 
in his writings. He has left his family, it is feared, in 
distressed circumstances." 

It would seem from the above that Sheraton did not 
make furniture after 1793, and that before that date he had 
to fill orders like any other ordinary workman ; and that in 
all probability, Sheraton, like Chippendale, executed few of 
his own cherished designs. 

The above obituary neglects to mention that Sheraton 
was a zealous Baptist, preached in chapels of that sect, and 
issued various religious publications. 

In his preface, Sheraton complains that all books on 
cabinet-making known to him give no instructions in per- 
spective and geometrical drawing and also omit patterns for 
ornaments. The first and second parts deal with geomet- 
rical lines and perspective especially for the use of the 
workman. The third part is devoted to designs for furni- 
ture, which •• are indeed liable to change," for it is not in 
** the power of any man to provide against it by making 
such drawings as will alwavs be thought new." Mouldings 
and carvings form the subject of the fourth part. From 

477 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

his remark that the third part ** is intended to exhibit the 
present taste of furniture, and at the same time to give the 
workman some assistance in the manufacture of it," we 
may infer that he is not as anxious to place his own designs 
upon the market as he is to exhibit the styles already in 
fashion. 

The Sheraton style is a reaction from the rococo ; in 
general form and treatment, it resembles the Louis X VI . furni- 
ture. It is tall and slender, with tapering " term " legs that 
are often fluted. His chairs have frequently a square back. 

The lyre is one of his favourite ornaments, and he is also 
fond of the urn or vase, swags of drapery, the vase filled 
with flowers, columns, the husk or bell-flower which he 
always calls the husk, flutings, columns and the patera. 

He likes to flute or loop green silk behind the glass 
doors of his bookcases and cabinets, uses a great deal 
of brass for trimming, and is famous for the ingenious 
mechanism which he introduces into his pieces. Although 
he uses mahogany very considerably, he is fonder of white 
and gold, gold, satin-wood and japanning. His furniture 
is covered with silk or satin, striped, figured or woven, or 
painted or printed with formal designs. An excellent idea 
of his style may be gained from the following description 
of a drawing-room taken from his book. 

The walls ** are panelled in paper with ornamented bor- 
ders of various colours " ; above the windows are arches, 
" wooden frames put up and strained with canvas, after 
which the same kind of stuff which the curtains are made 
of is formed to appear like a fan, and drapery tacked on to 
it " ; above the pier-glasses, square paintings completely 
filled the spaces between the arched windows. The fire- 
place is furnished with a grate and square tiles. Above it 

478 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

is a mirror matching the pier-glasses, and above the mir* 
ror, a square picture like those over the pier-glasses. On 
either side of the fireplace stands a sofa, and opposite the 
fireplace is a commode table. Three chairs, matching the 
sofa, stand on either side of the commode-table, above 
which is a mirror and square picture like those over the 



SHERATON SOFA 
Owntd by Edwin Forrest } now in the collection of the Wayside Inn, Sudbury. See page 482. 



fireplace opposite. Panelled doors are on the other side 
of the chairs. Pier-tables with marble tops and gold, or 
white and gold, frames, stand between the windows, and 
the glasses above them appear to come down as far as the 
stretchers of the table, for " a piece of glass is fixed behind 
the pier-table, separate from the upper glass which appears 
to be a continuation of the same glass, and by reflection 
makes the table to appear double. This small piece of 
glass may be fixed either in the dado of the room or in 
the frame of the table." A single candelabrum stands upon 
each pier-table. "The sofas are bordered off in three 

479 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

compartments and covered with figured silk or satin. The 
ovals may be printed separately and sevv^ed on. These sofas 
may be cushioned to fill their backs together with bolsters 
at each end." The chairs match the sofas. The com- 
mode-table has four doors, and a marble top to match the 
pier-tables. "In the frieze part of the commode is a tablet 
in the centre, made of an exquisite composition in imita- 
tion of statuary marble. These are to be had of any figure, 
or of any subject, at Mr. Wedgewood's, near Soho Square. 
They are let into the wood, and project a little forward. 
The commode should be painted to suit the furniture, and 
the legs and other parts in gold, to harmonize with the 
sofa, tables, and chairs." 

A Dining-Parlour similar to one done for the Prince 
of Wales in Carlton House has five windows that come to 
the floor and pilasters between each. A large glass is over 
the chimney-piece with sconces for candles. At each end 
of the room is a " large sideboard nearly i 2 feet in length, 
standing between a couple of Ionic columns, worked in 
composition to imitate fine variegated marble. In the mid- 
dle are placed a large range of dining-tables, standing on 
pillars with four claws each, which is now the fashionable 
way of making these tables. The claws are of mahogany, 
made in the style of the French with broad top rails hang- 
ing over each back foot ; the legs are turned, and the seats 
covered with red leather." The curtains "are of the French 
kind." 

"The general style of furnishing a dining-parlour should 
be in substantial and useful things, avoiding trifling orna- 
ments and unnecessary decorations. The pillars are em- 
blematic of the use we make of these rooms, in which we 
eat the principal meal for nature's support. The furniture 

480 




C/3 

< 5: 

Qu 

< r 

< ? 
O ^• 

en x: 



2=' 



O 






-« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS . 

without exception is mahogany, as being the next suitable 
for such appartments." Sheraton's symbolism is always 
amusing : he might be called the Maeterlinck of cabinet- 
makers. With regard to the dome, he writes : ** I am of 
the opinion that the notion of employing domes for the 




WORK-TABLE 
Owned by the Pickering family, in the Piclcering House, Salem, Mai*. See page 4S1. 

roofs of grand buildings was lirst suggested by the appear- 
ance of the hemisphere surrounding our earth or horizon, 
forming a canopy or roof to the globe ; which, if it were 
so, domes had their origin from a truly sublime and mag- 
nificent idea. The use of domes for the tops ot beds is ot 
much later date than for buildings ; but it is certain, 
whoever he was who first employed domes for the tops of 
beds, must be considered as a person of enlarged ideas, as 
no other top or roof for a genteel bed can equal them ; 

481 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

therefore we see them generally used for state beds, where 
both grandeur and bold effect are essentially requisite." 

Sheraton's beds, some of which will be described in the 
last chapter, are very curious and complicated arrange- 
ments of upholstery. They include alcove beds, French 
beds, state beds, beds with domes and canopies, and sofa 
beds. His sofas are very handsome, and among them we 
lind the new "Turkey sofa" and the "Chaise Longue," 
the use of which, he tells us, is " to rest or loll upon after 
dinner." A good specimen appears on page 479. 

He is also fond of designing writing-desks, dressing- 
tables, and work-tables for ladies, and equips them with 
many ingenious mechanical contrivances. The work-table 
is invariably furnished with a bag suspended to a frame 
that can be drawn forward. This he calls the " Pouch 
Table." Sheraton's chairs are highly valued to-day. They 
usually have straight, tapering legs and square backs. The 
chair to the left on page 473 (the other is a " Fancy " 
chair) and that on page 475 are good examples. Two 
work-tables appear on pages 481 and 483. Each has some 
of the Sheraton marks. The "kidney-shaped," which 
Sheraton adopted from the French, determines the period 
of the one owned by Mrs. Henry P. Archer. The other 
example belongs to Mr. John Pickering of Salem, Mass. 

" In the chair branch," Sheraton says, " it requires a 
particular turn in the handling of the slopes, to make them 
agreeable and easy. It is very remarkable, the difference 
of some chairs of precisely the same pattern, when executed 
by different chair-makers ; arising chiefly from the want of 
taste concerning the beauty of an outline, of which we 
judge by the eye, more than the rigid rules of geometry.'* 

Some of Sheraton's late designs for chairs were those 

482 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

he named •* Herculaneums," of course in the antique style ; 
hall chairs made of mahogany ** with turned seats and the 
crest or arms of the family painted on the back "; and 
"conversation chairs," upon which the "Incroyable" of 
the period sat with the back of the chair between his legs, 




WORK-TABLE 
K'\inej-»h»ped work-uSle owned by Mn. Henry P. Archer, Charleston, S. C. See pa(;e 481. 



resting his arms upon the top rail, which was upholstered 
comfortably. "The manner of conversing amongst some 
of the highest circles of company," says Sheraton, " on 
some occasions, is copied from the French by lounging on 
a chair. It should be observed that they were made extra- 
ordinary long between back and front, for the purpose of 
space for the fashionable posture; and also that they are 

4«J 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

narrow in the front and back, as an accommodation to 
this mode of conversing." 

"The conversation chairs are used in library or draw- 
ing-rooms. The parties who converse with each other sit 
with their legs across the seat, and rest their arms on the 
top rail, which for this purpose is made about three inches 
and a half wide, stuffed and covered." 

Two characteristic Sheraton chairs are reproduced on 
pages 473 ^^^ 475- "^^^ ^^^^ chair, to the left of the 
screen letter-case, belongs to Miss Anne Van Cortlandt, 
Croton-on-the-Hudson. The second belongs to the Colon- 
ial Dames, Baltimore, Md. It is of mahogany inlaid with 
satin-wood with the bell-flower on the leg. 

The sideboard facing page 458 is of the Sheraton 
period. It is inlaid with cord and tassels, flowers and 
ribbon in green, red and yellow woods. The knife-boxes 
have silver ball-and-claw feet, locks and handles. 





THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR ^^if 

FORE^FATHERS 




CARVED OAK SIDEBOARD 
Originally otvned by Mr. William Colgate, New York; now by Miss Jessie Colby t New York, N. Y. 

See page 536, 




THE FURNITURE 

OF OUR 

FOREFATHERS 



By ESTHER SINGLETON 

WITH CRITICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF PLATES 
By RUSSELL STURGIS 



ILLUSTRATED 



i3_ t.^<G 



— ^^.'^Sx^lkw^l 



^' - r~ - " ^^ 1^^ V^ i?^ ^^ ^^ -^^ -^^ ^ 




GARDEN CITY NEW YORK 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 
19 13 





COPYRIGHT, I 901, BY 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COo 

NOVEMBER, 190 1 



CONTENTS 



Fashion at the Beginning of the Revolution 



487-492 



-496 

-500 
-509 



Contrast between the North and South, 488 ; Fashion in An- 
napolis, 488—9; Maryland hospitality, 489—90; Wealth and 
luxury in Annapolis, 490 ; English Fashions and English Fur- 
niture, 492; Quick importations of Fashion, 492—3. 

Charleston IN THE Eighteenth Century . 493 

Josiah Quincv on Charleston, 493—4 ; Home of Miles Brew- 
ton, 494—5 ; General Washington in Charleston, 495-6. 

Virginia Homes in the Late Century . 496- 

Furniture of Mount Vernon . . . 500- 

General Washington in New York and Phila- 
delphia ...... 509-516 

Extracts from General Washington's Diary, 509— 10 ; General 
Washington's instructions for furnishing his Philadelphia house, 
512—14; Thomas Twining's description of the Presidential 
Home, 514; General Washington's gift to Read, 516. 

Thomas Jefferson's Home . . . 516-522 

Monticello and its Furniture, 516—18; Jefferson's reverence 
for relics associated with the United States, 518-21 ; Jcff^er- 
son's interest in music, 521—2. 

Musical Instruments .... 522-528 

Musical Glasses, 422—23; improved pianos and their makers, 
524-8. 



CONTENTS 

Clocks, Secretaries and VVork-Tables . 528 

Musical clocks and clocks with automata, 528— 30 ; Joseph 
Bonaparte's gift to Stephen Girard, 530 ; Bont'anti's novel- 
ties, 531-2 ; Lady Blessington's Work-table, 533. 

Sideboards and Desks 



PACE 

-533 



534-537 



Fashionable Furniture after the Revolution 

538 

General Washington in the North 
Boston during the Revolution 
Stock of a Nevs^ England Cabinet-Maker 
Salem after the Revolution 

Home of Elias H, Derby, 548—53 -, Cleopatra's Barge, 554-5. 

Philadelphia During the Revolution . 556 

The Mischianza, 556-9 ; Homes of Robert Morris, 559-62; 
Home of William Bingham, 562-4. 

Home of Joseph Bonaparte . . . 564 

General Lafayette at Point Breeze, 564-6 ; examples of Em 
pire Furniture, 566—8. 



540- 

543- 
546- 
548- 



-540 
-542 

-545 
-548 

■555 
-564 

-568 




J^^ii:^^: 



List of Illustrations 



WITH CRITICAL NOTES ON MANY OP 
THE PLATES BY RUSSELL STURCIS 



ALL THE NOTES rURNISHKD BY MR. tTVBGIt 
ABE FOLLOWED BY Hit UCNATUBB. 



Frontispiece; Carved Oak Sideboard facing 

Thb handsome specimen is of rich, dark oak elaborately tarred, the central panels of 
the two doors being appropriate designs of fish and birds. Above the doon are two draw- 
ers, decorated with grotesque heads, which are hollowed out to form handles. This side- 
board suggests the old livery cupboard (see pges 36 and 107) used for the display of pbte 
and for delivery or service. Upon it stand some valuable examples of family silver brought 
from England by the Colgates toward the end of the eighteenth century. E. S. 



PAOB 

iii 



Carved Ebony Table 



FACING 487 



The set of furniture to which this valuable table belongs has already been described on 
page 416 and in the first note to the illustrations in Part VI. The Uble is of unusual 
dimensions. The carving on the base consists of graceful leaves and flowers in high relief 
and the rich border suggests lace. Upon the table stand many rare ornaments bought in 
China during Mr. Caleb T. Smith's residence there from 1850 to 1870. Among them 
is a carved ivory ball, nude of seven balls carved one within the other. This hangs from 
a standard of carved ebony that was made especially to exhibit this treanue to advanugc. 
E. S. 

French Chair ....... 

Armchair of the modem sort with cushioned back and seat, and separately cushioned 
arms, the whole belonging to that type which in France under the Regency and under Loub 
XV. were called confortabUt with an attempted use of the English term. The piece in 
question n very delicately worked with refined carving forming the mouldings at the edge, 
and the larger surfaces veneered with richly veined woods. R. Sturgis. 

Maryland China Cabinet . . facing 

Comer cupboard with glass front, an unusual piece of the kind, as tight and graceful as 
those in Part V. are massive and in a sense architectural This is a piece of the delicate 
work of Heppclwhite's time, or copying hb Khool very closely The inlaw's and the deli- 
cate mouldinp which form the edges of the door paneb below and in the glazed doon 
above form similar edges and also the sash ban — all these being made of the delicately 
veined wood — are perfect of their kind. R. Sturgb. 

Mahogany Desk ...... 

Chest of drawen with writing-desk above. Thb combination of large drawen raised well 
above the floor and of a desk above too high for the ordinary writer sitting on an ordinary 
chair was, as we have found, ver)- common at earlier epochs. The present piece b of 
the beginning uf the nineteenth century and shows much of that indifference to decora- 
tive etfcct — that satbfiction with surfaces of polbhed mahogany as the sole eye-pleaainf 



489 



490 



491 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

element in the composition — which was so characteristic of the years from 1815 to i860. 
It is only when the workman reaches the legs of the piece that he allows himself a little 
divergence into ornamentation-, and that ornamentation b of the most obvious and simple 
character. R. Sturgis. 

French Sok.a and Chair . . . . -497 

Two pieces belonging to a set that was brought from France by Charles Coteswortli 
Pinckney. The woodwork is lacquered and decorated with Chinese figures. The feet 
of the sofa terminate in brass claws. E. S. 

Drawing Room .... facing 491 

This room contains excellent examples of furniture that was fashionable about the time of 
the Revolution. The chairs and sofas are of the Sheraton and Heppelwhite models, with 
the exception of two carved armchairs that belonged to Louis Philippe. The house and 
this room are fiilly described on pages 494-5. £. S. 

Mahogany Sideboard ..... 498 

Sideboard of the closing years of the eighteenth century. One of those effective pieces 
in which the severer taste of the time embodied especially in the Loun Seize work of 
France went to give perfect utility, great beauty of sur&ce, sparing and well applied orna- 
ment and generally harmonious composition. This is one of the most effective sideboards 
of the time. The reeded surface in the middle below represents a revolving or "disap- 
pearing' ' door which b slid sidewise, and packs itself away behind a lining of thin wood- 
work. R. Sturgis. 

Carved Chair, Carved Mirror and Table facing 498 

The chair, carved with a delicate openwork pattern of leaves and flowers, is said to have 
come from India; the carved ebony mirror, originally in the Emperor's Summer Palace 
at Pekin, may be compared with other examples of Chinese carving in Part VI. and in the 
fWjnrispiece to this chapter; the table is interesting on account of the great number of 
South American woods of which it is constructed and with which it is inlaid. Upon it 
stand some handsome examples of Chinese porcelain and carving, including a box of chess- 
men. E. S. 

Mirror, Chair, Spinning-Wheel and Candel- 
abra ..... facing 499 

The mirror is described on page 499; the chair, which is of Gothic design, belongs to 
the period of the Gothic revival under Pugin about 1820 to 1830. The seat is uphols- 
tered in bright worsted work, — somewhat reminiscent of the old Turkey-work. The 
bronze and gilt candelabra are described on pages 499-500. The spinning-wheel b a 
simple one. E. S. - 

Eleanor Custis's HarPvSichord and Tambour 

Frame ....... <;oi 

Harpsichord which, like the spinets seen in earlier parts of thb work, has in its case and the 
supporting members no architectural treatment, no carving, no inlay, no decorarion of the 
usual sorts. Elsewhere there has been considerarion of this very peculiar phenomenon, 
namely, the complete abstinence of the designers of these important instruments from all 
sumptuousity of effect. The appearance of the piano changed it all suddenly. 

The piano stool shown in the same plate belongs rather to the epoch of the elaborate 
piano facing 516 and the sofa facing 510. The tambour frame, an excellent example of 
that forgotten but certainly useful and agreeable piece of fiimiture, is of about the same 
date as the harpsichord and the difference in treatment b only another exemplificarion of 
what has been said and repeated in these notes, namely, that the clavichords of different 
kinds were combined with frames so much more simple than other contemporary pieces. 
R. Sturgb. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

rAoc 

Chair from Mount Vernon and Painted Rose- 
wood Card Table ..... 505 

Card table in whkh painting of the representative tort, with flowen more or lest realistic 
in character, ha* been used exactly as the piece on page $;7. The Greek anthemioiu at 
the four comers of the table when opened arc also, probably, painted and not inlaid as 
they would have been forty yean earlier — for this table b probably of the early yean of the 
nintecnth century. 

A Tcry beautiful drawing-room chair with the ununial feature of casten for all four legs, 
and which has been finished in what is now called "enamel" paint, white or creans- 
coloured, is earlier than the table. The use of the simple fluting and the spiral bead at the 
edges is very judicious and elfecdve. R. Sturgis. 

Washington's Bedroom, Mount Vernon . facing 508 

Room at Mount Vernon in which the entire simplicity of the eighteenth-century pro- 
gramme of house furnishing is presented to us in an interesting way. Washington passed 
for a wealthy land-holder and his position as President and as past president would neces- 
sarily have caused him to live as sumptuously as any of hb neighbors or contemporaries in 
more distant States. Here, however, in a good bedroom, there is no pretence made of any 
elaborateness of decoration or furniture as having ever existed. The carpet of course it 
modem, and although the pieces of furniture be of Washington's time they do not neces- 
sarily belong to the room in which they are now placed ; but the room n shown as the 
plain thing that it must have been even when Washington was spending his few yean of 
retirement at his ancestral home. 

The mantelpiece is one of the most interesting things in the room; the stone or slate 
£icing below and the wooden frame shelf and frieze between are all characteristic and ex- 
tremely appropriate. The great chest of drawen with bookcase is of the type which has 
been shown in richer examples. The trunk mail or leather travelling trunJu, the chair, 
and the round stand are of Washington's earlier days when he was still in comnund of the 
army or even before that, but the Jauteiti/ is of his post-pretidential time, a piece of the 
closing yean of the century. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany Sofa .... facing 509 

So& in which the elaborate style of earring well shown in the piano &cing 516 exists in 
cren greater richness, but without quite the same intelligent disposition of the parts. It is, 
howerer, a matter of extreme difficulty to design aright the wooden outline to which such 
a frame as this is limited. It coven and conceals the solid structure of the sofa and some 
put of it nuy even belong to that structure, but the important part played by the textile 
nuterial which coven seat, arms and back leaves to the designer of the woodwork so very 
little opportunity that it must be an able man who reaches great tuccen in the treatment 
of hit design. R. Sturgis. 

George Washington's Desk . . . • 5'! 

This it an example of the heavy and clumsy furniture that supplanted the Sheraton styles, 
and the turned balusten at the top and the tAuies of the bell-flower, large and coane in de- 
sign, inlaid in utin-wood contribute the only decoration. The roll top is composed of 
narrow strips of wood glued on canvas. This work Sheraton calls " tambour." The 
sideboard on page 498 has a tambour shutter to close the arched opening. E. S. 

Chair from Washington's Presidential Man- 



sion ....... 

Armchair of L»m$ Sttat detign and covered with a piece of tilk brocade of the period. 
This is a characteristic and well preserved specimen ; not otherwise were made the chain 
which fumished the smaller Trianon or the mansions of the nobility at Versailles. R. 
Sturgis. 



513 



Musical Glasses .... facing 514 

Harmonica in which the neceatanly plain box, the lower part of which is, in the best ex- 
amples, hollow and resonant, b made as effective as possible to the workman as a piece of 
furniture by the mounting upon two columns and a front piece suggrsrive of a lyre. Such 
piece* were somewhat in vogue in France from 1 770 to the cloae of the century, and the 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

TAOt 

popular word was that they were the invention of Benjamin Franklin. It seems, how* 
ever, that the musical glasses originated by Franklin were pbyed with the finger only, ana 
by means of a delicate rubbing which caused the saucers with water in them to vibrate with 
a more or less shrill sound as the amount of water was increased. A later development 
involved the use of larger and deeper glasses which were played upon by little hammers of 
cork. R. Sturgis. 

Chair Given by Washington to Read . '5^5 

Armchair of the close of the eighteenth century, the back formed of that curious combina- 
tion of lines and curves which stood for a Greek lyre. It is finished in white or ivoiy 
white. R. Sturgis. 

Pianoforte ..... facing 515 

Piano of an early form and exemplifying perfectly the florid style of 1820 and following 
years. This style we have occasion to touch upon in connection with high-post bedsteads 
in Parts V. and VI. and in the sofa facing page 510 and other pieces in the present Part 
Vll. Nowhere, however, does the sculpture seem as perfect as here. The gilded metal 
caps at the junction of these legs with the piano itself and the metal rosettes of two pat- 
terns in the fneze above are suggestions taken from the French Empire style ; so much re- 
mains, but it does seem as if the lich sculpture in hard, dark coloured, highly polished 
wood had come from a style earlier than that of the Empire. It is as if traditions had been 
preserved in England and perhaps even more carefully preserved in the Atlantic States of 
America, leaning upon which the workmen of the early nineteenth century were able to 
strike out this rather daring line for themselves. R. Sturgis. 

Thomas Jefferson's Desk . . . -519 

Writing-desk with the hinged and revolving fi^nt piece forming a condnuation of the 
steep slope above ; the inkstands finding safety in one of the upper drawers, which, when 
opened, is seen to contain racks for pens and the like, as well as square compartments for 
the ink-bottles This arrangement of providing the desired slope is common in the porta- 
ble writing-desks of the period — that is to say, in the square-cornered brass-bound mahog- 
any or mahogany veneered boxes which gentlemen used habitually from 1800 to 1850, 
and in which their important papers were often kept. Such a portable desk was always 
furnished with firm handles dropping into sockets, so as to be well out of the way, and 
the owner might take it on a sea voyage with him or into the country, feeliog that he had 
all his precious belongings under his hand. Here the same form is applied to a more sta- 
tionary piece of furniture which in itself contains no ornamental feature except the mould- 
ed and reeded legs. R. Sturgis. 

West Parlour, Mount Vernon . facing 520 

Room at Mount Vernon furnished with a carpet woven for the room itself with the arms 
of the United States. This is a medallion carpet rather good in general design, the pro- 
portion of the parts being well kept, but the barbarous heraldry of the early nineteenth 
century was opposed to anything like great success in colour combination. One thing is 
noticeable — the escdtcheon borne on the breast of the eagle has simply the chief azure and 
the field prty per pie argent and gules, there being then two unusual features, one alto- 
gether welcome and the other of doubtful propriety. In the first place the chief should 
not have the stars ; they belong in the flag, but not in the escutcheon of the United 
States, as that was adopted by Act cf Congress, and in this the present example is correct. 
On the other hand, the field below, the chief instead of thirteen pieces (or vertical stripes) 
has here seventeen, and the silver or white stripes are in the greater number ; in this the 
heraldic marshalling before us is incorrect. 

The ivory fin'ished fauieuil of very beautiful Louis Seiase design u of the second half of 
the eighteenth century, and of course not of the sixteenth, as its printed inscription sets 
forth. R. Sturgis. 

Lady's Writing-Desk . . . facing 521 

This desk is somewhat similar in form to the letter-case (see pages T19 and 473). This 
is constructed of rosewood, and is beautifully inlaid with ivory. It is furnished with a 
clock and a musical box. This was imported from Belgium early in the nineteenth cen- 
tury. E. S. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAOI 

Pianoforte ....... 525 

Piano of the earliest type, the frame having the tame severe simplicity which has been 
noted in connection with harpsichords and spinets — the instnintents which were the 
forerunnen of the piano. It remains a puzzle — this severe simplicity, this abcdnence from 
all attempt at elaborateness of design— characteristic of the earlier clavichords. As toon, 
however, ai the piano was introduced, the very great weight of the necessar)' mechanism 
pointed the way to a different treatment of the franoe, and the result appear* in the sis- 
legged design with legs, moreover, much heavier and stronger shown b the hardly bter 
piano ficing page 516. R. Sturgis. 

Secretary ........ 529 

Exritoire of the upright pattern which, as a recent French novelist has said, n found now- 
adays only in country hotels ; having, however, the somewhat unusual feature of a brge 
music -box for its crowning member. It is undoubtedly with some reference to the artistic 
character of this last-named refinement that the uppermost member of the compotition is 
so ekbonte with its late Ionic columns and gilded metal appliques. R. Sturgi*. 

Mahogany Sideboard . . . facing 532 

Sideboard of about 1810 with the simple Georgian style in its full force. The pieces of 
this epoch cannot compare for grace with thoae of thirty yean earlier, but they are ra- 
tiotul and comely and enable the owner to fiimish and decorate a room in entire accord- 
ance with the life of a &mily of cultivated and intelligent persons. The mirror fiame, 
which is of about the same date of the sideboard, shows the richer work of the time. For 
some reason not explained these frames in:ended to be gilt (as they most commonly were) 
have always been allowed to retain a richness of form which we can almost say was de- 
nied to every other utensil or piece of furniture from 1 790 to 1850. R. Sturgis. 

Lady Blessington's Work-Table . . . 533 

Attention has been called in the text to the popularity of the lady's work-table. This 
example was specially designed for Lady Blessington. When the top, which is eigh- 
teen inches in diameter, is opened, it shows a well surrounded by small compartments. 
No work -table was considered complete without the bag, or pouch, or well, which was 
intended for both use and ornament. This piece of furniture is richly inlaid. E. S. 

Mahogany Sideboard, Knife-Boxes and Cel- 
laret 535 

Sideboard of the bter yean of the eighteenth century ; an elaborate piece with three cup- 
boards, two deep drawen for holding bottles erect, and seven other drawen of different 
ases. The effort to combine so many parts in one piece of furniture has resulted in a 
fccm leas entirely satisfying to the artisdc sense than the simpler ones shown in Parts III. 
and IV. The obvious utility of the whole and the severe simplicity of its design saves it, 
of course, from anything approaching ugliness. Such a piece is handsomer when put to 
full use with all the three memben of its top filled with their appropriate pieces, as in- 
deed they are shown in the present picture. The knife-boxes are very good in design and 
it is a pity that one of them was not shown closed that they might be judged of com- 
pletely. Small chest, probably a wine-cooler, set beneath the sideboard, but altogether 
apart firom it R. Sturgis. 

Desk and Chair .... . . 537 

Chair and writing-table of the early nineteenth century. The writing-uble is of that 
delicate and simple form which is most fitting to a drawing-room or the comer of a dining- 
room which is used for other purposes than the family meals. The top is hinged at one 
edge and lifb up with a falling brace and a ratchet so as to be adjustable at different angles; 
and little sliding shelves at 'wo ends serve for the safe pbcing of ink-stands, and, it appears, 
for cups of tea or mugs of liquid refreshment. This piece of furniture is of the most 
graceful and attractive character. The brass knobs are probably of the epoch. R. 
Sturgis. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAOI 

"Banjo Clock" and Clock wtth Cherry Case 

FACING 533 

Two clocks, the one a wall clock intended to be secured high up in a stair hall or sinnilar 
exposed situation, the other a tall clock like several others which we have seen in other 
parts of the present work. 

The wall clock is of the best form, an extremely intelligent design, allowing for the 
swing of the pendulum, and its whole shape expressing not only the essence of the thing 
in that it must be suspended by hooks in the back and supported on nothing beneath it, 
but also assuming a sufficiently graceful outline and showing a general composition hr 
above the average of merit. The standing clock also b one of the best examples, the 
use of the classical columns is really exempbry; it is seldom that these architectural 
members are introduced into furniture with so much good taste and so good a result. 
R. Sturgis. 

Curled Maple Desk . . . . • 541 

Chest of drawers with writing-desk and bookcase, a piece made sumptuous by beautiful 
veneer, probably of curl maple. The judicious use of this rippled golden surface with its 
semi-translucent lustre — its restriction to the sunken parts, drawer fronts and paneb, b as 
noticeable as its inherent beauty. It was a good feeling, too, which made the piece so severe, 
so free from moulded and carved ornamentation, depending altogether upon the contrast of 
the darker and lighter wood and the beauty of the grain. R. Sturgb. 

Chairs of French Make ..... 545 

Chair and armchair in which a rude carving filb the principal slat of the back. The 
range of subject is shown by comparison of the two; that on the right being a Bacchus and 
that on the left, a very simple and humble maiden watering her flowers. Another chair 
of the same set has a Pan — an JEgi-Pan — playing on what seems to be meant for a 
modem flute. It would be hard to date these pieces with accuracy or to establish their 
provenience. They seem to be the work of a man of independence who was trying to de- 
sign something which was not made by his competitors. R. Sturgb. 

Console Table ..... facing 548 

Side table in Empire Style with an unusual display of metal appliques, which are gener- 
ally effective and well placed. The candelabra and centrepiece, with dancing Cupids car- 
rying a corbeille, are of good French work, the candelabra older than the centrepiece, 
which b probably contemporary with the table upon which it stands. The upright in the 
design of the candelabra is composed of three terminal figures, or, more properly, of 
satyrs or heads resting upon gaines adorned with festoons. This, in gilt bronze, is an ex- 
tremely effective ornamentation, and makes the chief part of the design, artistically speak- 
ing, an especially fine and unusual piece of metal work. R. Sturgb. 

Mahogany Sofa ...... 549 

Sofa covered with hair cloth, the carved wooden flanking-piecc made up of arm and leg 
conjoined at either end having that same unmeaning character very common in the Eng- 
lish and Anglo-American work of the reign of George III. The world of decoraUon of 
art, applied to purpose of daily life as well as the other neighbouring world of fine art pure 
and simple, was in its decline at this time — on the slope of the decline which did not reach 
its lowest depth until the middle of the nineteenth century. R. Sturgis. 

Daniel Webster's Desk . . . facing 549 

Chest of drawers with writing-desk ; a piece of the well-known type so often represented 
in thb work, but one of a singular severity and simple grace. The effect is obtained al- 
most wholly by beauty of the wood, the front of the drawers being delicately veneered, and 
by the brass handles and scutcheons which fortunately have been preserved. The propor- 
tions, however, are unusually good and ^ve the piece special charm. R. Sturgb. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FAOI 

Console Table ...... 553 

A table, tuch u m the early )-ean of the nineteenth century wu ma<ie to ttutd between the 
windows of 3 drawing room and usually beneath a " pier glati," the mirror betMreen the 
uprights of the table continuing the reflected surface nearly to the floor. Such pieces, 
o^n called pier tables, allow of a certain dignity, and that fact is sought in the present 
case by the very massive-deeming round columns, probably veneered and fitted with gilt 
metal bases and capiuls. A gilt metal applique tills the centre of the front rail. This it 
a good specimen of the simpler furniture of the Stj/e Em fire. R. Sturgis. 

Cabinet ...... facing 554 

This is an example of native carving, the work of an amateur who amused himself in 
his leisure with carving chain, tables, mantelpieces, etc., etc. This piece is further en- 
riched with porcelain panels and brass hinges. E. S. 

Chair and Table .... facing 555 

Table with painted top, an excellent specimen of the painted work of the earlier yean 
of the nineteenth centur)-. The p«eudo-Greck border is pretty in design, though it does 
noC well frame the painting which tills the medallion. 

The chair is an unusually well designed instance of the four-backed type. R. Sturgis. 

Fancy Chair ....... 557 

Chair of the later Georgian period, with fine and solid rush scat, the frame highly dec- 
orated with painting. A chair otfen no Urge surface upon which a picture may be painted 
except at the inner or principal side of the back ; and this is hidden by the person of the 
occupant and is in danger of injury. And yet at the time (1815 to 1830) when the 
painting of little landscape pictures was thought good for door-paneb and table-tops, and 
for the edges of carefully bound books beneath the gilding of the leaves, a slight tendency 
in the same direction naturally took shape in the decoration of drawing-room chain. This 
vestige of the admirable art of the eighteenth century, centred in France and extending 
thence over Europe, brought with it some really admirable compositions in the spirit of 
the English landscape painten of the time. The slight leaf painting upon the legs of the 
chair is a natural and proper " echo " of the color decoration above. R. Sturgis. 

Mahogany and Gilt Mirror . . . 559 

Minor frame of the earlier yean of the nineteenth century. The student will note the 
intelligence of the design — the systematic way in which the breaks of the outer border of 
the frame — breaks which in architecture are called ancons and lugs, suffice in the present 
instance to cover and excuse the spirited bits of free pierced carving, which forms a branch 
with oak leaves and acorns, seeming to hang down on each side. The design is spoiled 
by the elaborate lettering which has been added in bter times. R. Sturgis. 

Marble Table and Chairs ok the Early Nine- 
teenth Century . . . facing 560 

Small centre table of marble beautifully veined. The let of tea-pot, cream-pot, sugar-pot 
and two cups and saucen are probably of the royal factory of Sevres and of about l8io. 
The buildings represented in the medallions painted upon these pieces might all be identi- 
fied with a little trouble, for the custom of the times was to represent actual Kenes and 
objects as the motive for these adornments — a style of decoration certainly not character- 
istic of ceramic ware but idendlied with the work of this great establishment. R. 
Sturgis. 

Secretary ..... . . 561 

This piece may be compared with Governor Wentworth's desk on page 369. This is of 
rich mahogany. The legs are very simple as abo are the brass handles, but the arrange- 
ment of the interior is i)uite elaborate. Hrrr we find a number of pigeon-holes, draweis 

Vii 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



and secret drawers above the writing-slab, which is somewhat nearer the floor than usual 
in such pieces. The upper portion, which is enclosed with doors, contains many con- 
venient drawers and pigeon-holes and partitions evidently for the use of large ledgers. The 
cornice is ornamented with a gilded eagle and burning torches also gilded. £. S. 



Mahogany Chair . . . . . . 

Drawing-room chair of the severe pseudo-classical style which was developed from the 
French cbssical revival under Louis XIV., but carried further and to its decadence under 
the first Napoleon. The Englishmen working for the simple English dining-room or draw- 
ing-room rejected wrought ornamentation, colour and gilding, and thought that they we"^ 
doing something noble and altogether worthy in seeking alone the polished surface of ma- 
hogany combined with what they thought were classical forms. The result is not ugly 
merely because the piece shows well enough the purpose for which it is intended, and pro- 
vides a comfortable seat without the disfigurement of ill-applied ornamentation. R. 
Sturgis. 

Empire Chair ...... 

Armchair in the " Empire Style " and probably of French make. This is a characteristic 
specimen ; seldom in America is to be found so unmistakeably 'mperial a design. The 
attempted classical character of the hollowed back is as important as the purely decorative 
parts. R. Sturgis 



563 



565 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

Part VII 




CARVED EBONY TABLE 

Oivnec/ by Mrs. Caleb T. Smith, Smithtmvn, L. I. See page Jj5. 




THE FURNITURE OF 
OUR FOREFATHERS 

PART VH 

Domestic and Imported Furniture 

FROM 1776 TO 1830 

P O ff^ the outbreak of the Revokition, the home 
^^'^^^^h of a wealthy American lost nothing in com- 

Aparison with that of an Englishman in sim- 
I ilar circumstances. Imported and home- 
^' made furniture of the Chippendale school 
^*^Sl*^^^ Yvaj^ all the rage, and the extent to which 
the latest foreign fashions were welcomed may he gathered 
from the protests of the day. Serious attempts were made 
to curtail importations which were said to be ruining na- 
tive industry. In the North, simplicity was more marked 
than in the South ; but, even in New England, fashion and 
elegance were found in many households, as we have al- 
ready seen. There, however, magnificence sometimes 
aroused unfavourable comment. In 1774, John Adams 
notes: "John Lowell, at Newburyport, has built himself a 
house like the palace of a nobleman, and lives in great 

4«7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

splendour." Mr. Adams was one of those who were hostile 
to anything of that kind. In 1778, commenting upon the 
splendour of French life, he says : 

" I cannot help suspecting that the more elegance, the 
less virtue, in all times and countries. Yet I fear that even 
my own dear country wants the power and opportunity 
more than the inclination to be elegant, soft and luxuri- 
ous. . . . Luxury has as many and as bewitching charms on 
your side of the ocean as on this ; and luxury wherever she 
goes, effaces from human nature the image of the Divinity. 
If I had power, I would forever banish and exclude from 
America all gold, silver, precious stones, alabaster, marble, 
silk, velvet and lace." 

The difference between the North and South impressed 
every traveller. It was striking. The life of the South- 
ern planter was one of ease and elegance; and conditions 
differed slightly in Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. 
The centres of fashion were Annapolis, Williamsburg and 
Charleston, — gay and pleasure-loving towns. The capital 
of Maryland reached its height of splendour a few years 
before the Revolution, and this did not diminish until sev- 
eral years after the war had ceased. The presence of many 
Englishmen on official missions, with their retinues and 
families, brought fashion, affluence and gaiety to the colo- 
nial capital. The houses were renowned for their costly 
and beautiful furniture, their well-arranged and cultivated 
grounds, and their lavish hospitality. Eddis, an English 
traveller, who wrote his experiences in 1 769-1 777, re- 
marks : " Whatever you have heard relative to the rigid 
Puritanical principles and economical habits of our Ameri- 
can brethren, is by no means true when applied to the in- 
habitants of the Southern provinces. Liberality of senti- 

488 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ment, and genuine hospitality are everywhere prevalent ; 
and I am persuaded they too frequently mistake profuseness 
for generosity, and impair their health and their fortunes 
by splendour of appearance and magnificence of entertain- 




FRENCH CHAIR 
Owned by Mr. Robert Colby, New York, N. Y. See page 538. 



ment.** He mentions, particularly, among the beautiful 
villas in the vicinity of Annapolis, Rousby Hall in Calvert 
County, about seventy miles from the town, as being " as 
well-known to the weary, indigent traveller as to the afflu- 
ent guest,** and adds : " In a country where hospitality is 
the distinguishing feature, the benevolent owner has estab- 

4S9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

lished a preeminence, which places his character in an ex- 
alted point of view." 

The Abbe Robin, who accompanied Count Rocham- 
beau as chaplain to America, is another witness of the con- 
trast between North and South. In 178 i, he writes in his 
Nouveau Voyage dans r Amerique Septentrionale : 

** As we advance towards the South, we find a very 
sensible difference in the manners and customs of the peo- 
ple. In Connecticut the houses are placed on the public 
roads at small intervals, and barely large enough to accom- 
modate a single family, and are furnished in the most plain 
and simple manner ; but here are spacious, isolated habita- 
tions, consisting of several edifices, built in the centre of a 
plantation, and so remote from the public road as to be 
lost to the view of travellers. These plantations are culti- 
vated by negroes, . . . The furniture of the houses here 
is of the most costly wood and the rarest marble, enriched 
and decorated by artists ; they have light and elegant car- 
riages, which are drawn by fine horses ; the coachmen are 
slaves and are richly dressed. There appears to be more 
wealth and luxury in Annapolis than in any other city 
which I have visited in this country. The extravagance of 
the women here surpasses that of our own provinces; a 
French hairdresser is a man of great importance ; one lady 
here pays to her coiffeur a salary of a thousand crowns. 
This little city, which is at the mouth of the Severn river, 
contains several hand.some edifices. The state-house is the 
finest in the country ; its front is ornamented with columns, 
and the building surmounted by a dome. There is also a 
theatre here. Annapolis is a place of considerable shipping. 
The climate is the most delightful in the world." 

A corner cupboard from Maryland, probably the work 

490 




MARYLAND CHINA CABINET 
Orcned by Mrs. Gforge Ben Johnston, Richmond, I'a. Set page 491. 




o 
o 

oi 

c 
< 

O 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR PX)REFATHERS 

of a native cabinet-maker, faces page 490. It is of ma- 
hogany inlaid with satin-wood, a species of the bell-flower 
appearing on the legs. The panels of the doors are formed 
of some light mottled wood, which also frames the glass 




MAHOGANY DESK 
Owned by Protdent Madiion } now by Mn. George Ben Juhntton, Richmond, Virginia. See page 521. 



panes. The urns ornamenting the top are bronze and gilt. 
This curious three-cornered china cabinet, or cupboard, is 
owned by Mrs. George Ben Johnston, Richmond, Va., and 
is filled with handsome china and glass of the period. 

When we find a writer impressed with conditions of 

49« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

elegance, we naturally hesitate to accept his estimate until 
we know whether his experience has qualified him to 
judge. When, therefore, we find the Duke de la Roche- 
foucauld-Liancourt speaking with approval of a typical 
Southern home, we are satisfied that the travellers already 
quoted did not greatly exaggerate. Of Whitehall, the home 
of Governor Sharp, the Duke says in his Voyage dans les 
Etats-Unis (1795-97), that this was "a most delightful 
retreat about seven miles distant (from Annapolis) ; his 
house is on a large scale, the design is excellent, and the 
apartments well fitted up and perfectly convenient." Else- 
where he says : 

" In a country which has belonged to England for a 
long time, of which the most numerous and nearest con- 
nections are yet with England, and which carries on with 
England almost all of its commerce, the manners of the 
people must necessarily resemble, in a great degree, those 
of England. As for American manners particularly, those 
relative to living are the same as in the provinces of Eng- 
land. As to the dress, the English fashions are as faith- 
fully copied as the sending of merchandise from England 
and the tradition of tailors and mantua-makers will admit 
of. The distribution of the apartments in their houses is 
like that of England, the furniture is English, the town 
carriages are either English or in the English taste ; and it 
is no small merit among the fashionable world to have a 
coach newly arrived from London and of the newest 
fashion." 

Eddis also writes : 

"The quick importation of fashions from the mother 
country is really astonishing. I am almost inclined to be- 
lieve that a new fashion is adopted earlier by the polished 

492 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

and affluent American, than by many opulent persons in 
the great metropolis ; nor are opportunities wanting to dis- 
play superior elegance. We have varied amusements and 
numerous parties, which afford to the young, the gay, and 
the ambitious, an extensive field to contend in the race of 
vain and idle competition. In short, very little difference 




FRENCH SOFA AND CHAIR 
Owned by Mrt. Charies Cotnworth Pinckney, Charlestun, S. C. See page 538. 

is, in reality, observable in the manners of the wealthy 
colonist and the wealthy Briton. Good and bad habits 
prevail on both sides the Atlantic." 

We not only find unprejudiced foreign travellers extol- 
ing the wealth, hospitality and elegances of living, but 
visitors from the Northern States never failed to be im- 
pressed with what thev saw and the treatment they re- 
ceived. Occasionally they record their experiences. For 
example, Josiah C^iincy, of Massachusetts, who visited 
Charleston in 1773, writes: "This town makes a most 
beautiful appearance as you come up to it, and in many 
aspects a magnificent one. Although I have not been 
here twenty hours, I have traversed the most populous parts 

493 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

of it. I can only say in general, that in grandeur, splen- 
dour of building, decorations, equipages, numbers, com- 
merce, shipping, and indeed in almost everything it far sur- 
passes all I ever saw or ever expected to see in America." 

On March 8th he was entertained at a house that is 
still standing, the drawing-room of which appears facing 
this page. He writes : 

"March 8 (1773). Dined with a large company at 
Miles Brewton's, Esq., a gentleman of very large fortune; 
a superb house said to have cost him ^^8,000 sterling. A 
most elegant table, three courses, etc., etc. At Mr. Brew- 
ton's sideboard was very magnificent plate. A very fine 
bird kept familiarly playing about the room under our 
chairs and the table, picking up the crumbs and perching 
on the window and sideboard." 

This fine brick house on King Street, with its generous 
doorway and double flight of marble steps, was built by the 
above mentioned Miles Brewton, an Englishman who came 
to Charleston early in the eighteenth century. In 1775, 
he left Charleston for England intending to leave his fam- 
ily there and return to America, as he was an ardent Revo- 
lutionist. The vessel was wrecked and not a passenger 
saved. The house became the property of his married 
daughter, Rebecca (Mrs. Jacob Motte), who dwelt here 
with her daughters until the British entered the city. Sir 
Henry Clinton and his officers occupied it in 1781—82, and 
Mrs. Motte retired to her plantation on the Congaree, near 
Columbia. 

The home of Miles Brewton, now known as the Prin- 
gle House, is owned by his descendant. Miss Susan Pringle. 
It is an excellent example of a typical Charleston home ol 
the eighteenth century. Upon the walls of the drawing- 

494 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

room, facing page 494, is a portrait of Miles Brewton by 
Sir Joshua Reynolds. The large mirror between the win- 
dows dates from an early period, and has never been in- 
flicted with a new glass. The frame is richly carved and 
gilt. The windows are draped in the old-fashioned style 
with curtains of daflx)dil-coloured damask that have hung 
in the same spot since the time of the Revolution. Much 
of the furniture in this enormous room is of the Heppel- 
white and Sheraton period. A stufl^ed Heppelwhite arm- 
chair stands directly in front of the mirror. It, like the 
others of its type in the same room, is covered with crim- 
son damask, which was so fashionable in its day. One of 
this set decorated with fringe has already appeared on page 
45 1 . The armchair on its left, which is one of another 
set, is covered with yellow damask ; while others are up- 
holstered with flowered material like the sofa that is cosily 
placed near the open Are. Other sofas in the room are 
covered with yellow damask. The two carved chairs stand- 
ing on either side of the table, which, like all the rest of 
the furniture, is of mahogany, belonged to Louis Philippe. 
The room is of beautiful proportions, and the woodwork 
is particularly fine. The marble mantelpiece is very ornate 
and handsome ; but, perhaps the mOvSt noticeable feature of 
the room is the superb crystal chandelier, consisting of 
twenty-four sconces, each furnished with a glass shade more 
than a foot in height. Fortunately, it has never been al- 
tered for gas or electricity, and the candles still shed their 
soft glow upon the room, and cause the enormous giron- 
delles in chains and pendants to sparkle with prismatic 
hues. Only a portion of this candelabrum appears, as it is 
built somewhat in the form of a pyramid. 

A much more notable visitor to Charleston was Gcn- 

♦95 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

eral Washington, who was entertained in a house on 
Church Street, near Tradd, owned by Judge Heyward, and 
which was "superbly furnished for the occasion." Two 
extracts from General Washington's Diary will be sufficient 
to show what his impressions were: 

May 5, 1790. " Dined with a very large company at 
the Governor's and in the evening went to a Concert at 
the Exchange at which there were at least four hundred 
ladies, the number and appearance of which exceeded any- 
thing of the kind I had ever seen." 

May 7, 1 790. •* Charleston contains about i ,600 
dwelling-houses. ... It lies low with unpaved streets (ex- 
cept the footways) of sand. There are a number of very 
good houses of Brick and wood, but most of the latter. — 
The Inhabitants are wealthy — gay — and hospitable; appear 
happy and satistied with the General Government." 

Washington also speaks of Captain Alston as a gentle- 
man of large fortune whose ** house which is large, new, 
and elegantly furnished, stands on a sand-hill high for the 
Country, and his Rice fields below." 

It would seem that some of the Virginian houses were 
splendid while others were neglected and falling into de- 
cay. The Duke de la Rochefoucauld- Liancourt says that 
the Virginians spend more than their income. " You 
find, therefore, very frequently a table well served and 
covered with plate in a room where half the windows 
have been broken for years past, and will probably be so 
ten years longer. But few houses are in tolerable state of 
repair." 

The Marquis de Chastellux also testifies : " The Vir- 
ginians have the reputation, and with reason, of living 
nobly in their homes and of being hospitable; they give 

496 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

strangers not only a willing, but a liberal reception. This 
arises, on one hand, from their having no large towns 
where they may assemble, by which means they are little 
acquainted with society except from the visits they make ; 
and, on the other, their lands and their negroes furnishing 
them with every article of consumption and the necessary 
service, the renowned hospitality costs them very little. 
Their houses are spacious and ornamented, but their apart- 
ments are not commodious ; they make no ceremony of 
putting three or four persons into the same room ; nor do 
these make any objection to their being thus heaped to- 
gether ; for being in general ignorant of the comfort of 
reading and writing, they want nothing in their whole 
house but a bed, a dining-room, and a drawing-room for 
company. The chief magnificence of the Virginians con- 
sists in furniture, linen and plate ; in which they resemble 
our ancestors, who had neither cabinets nor wardrobes in 
their castles, but contented themselves with a well-stored 
cellar and a handsome buffet." 

The Marquis visited IVestover and highly praised it. 

" We travelled six and twenty miles without halting, in 
very hot weather, but by a very agreeable road, with mag- 
nificent houses in view at every instant ; for the banks of 
the James River form the garden of Virginia. That of 
Mrs. Byrd, to which I was going, surpasses them all in the 
magnificence of the buildings, the beauty of its situation, 
and the pleasures of society." 

** . . . Mr. Mead's house is by no means so handsome as 
IVestover^ but it is extremely well fitted up within, and 
stands on a charming situation ; for it is directly opposite 
to Mrs. Byrd's, which with its surrounding appendages, has 
the appearance of a small town and forms a most delight- 

497 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ful prospect. Mr. Mead's garden, like that of Westover^ is 
in the nature of a terrace on the bank of the river." 

In 1779, another traveller, Anburey, spent a few days 
with Colonel Randolph at Tuckahoey and says that, the 
house seems to have been built for the sole purpose of hos- 
pitality, and it is therefore worth describing. 




MAHOGANY SIDEBOARD 
Owned by the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass. See page 536. 



" It is in the form of an H; and has the appearance of 
two houses joined by a large saloon ; each wing has two 
stories, and four large rooms on a floor ; in one the family 
reside, and the other is reserved solely for visitors ; the saloon 
that unites them is of considerable magnitude, and on each 
side are doors; the ceiling is lofty, and to these they prin- 
cipally retire in the summer, being but little incommoded 
by the sun, and by the doors of each of the houses and 
those of the saloon being open, there is a constant circula- 
tion of air; they are furnished with four sophas, two on 

49S 




MIRROR, CHAIR, SPINNING-WHEEL AND BRONZE AND 
GILT CANDELABRA 

Onxined by Dr. and Mrs. IfiUiam L. Royall, Richmond, Va. See page 4gg. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

each side, besides chairs, and in the centre there is gener- 
ally a chandelier ; these saloons answer the two purposes of 
a cool retreat from the scorching and sultry heat of the 
climate, and of an occasional ball-room. The outhouses 
are attached at some distance, that the house may be open 
to the air on all sides." 

Belvoir is of special interest, on account of the ties be- 
tween its owner and the master of Mount Vemoti. The 
former was William Fairfax, whose daughter became the 
wife of Lawrence Washington. Young George Washington 
spent much of his time at Belvoir and after he became the 
proprietor of Mount Vernon^ the happy relations still con- 
tinued with his neighbours. The contents oi Belvoir were 
sold by auction in 1774, on which occasion Washington 
bought articles of furniture to the value of ^^169-1 2-6, and 
has left a list of them in his own handwriting. 

A typical convex mirror of the period is shown in the 
illustration facing page 500, showing a corner of a room 
in the home of Mrs. William L. Royall, Richmond, Va. 
This mirror, which is one of a pair, is exceedingly hand- 
some. The carving of the dolphins and the burning torch 
is well executed. The entire frame and the sconces are 
gilt, and a band of black just below the large balls lends 
relief. These mirrors were the property of the Coles fam- 
ily of Virginia, and were long in the house of John Ruth- 
erfoord. Governor of Virginia, who married Emily Coles, 
and were inherited by their granddaughter, Mrs. Royall, 
the present owner. 

The Gothic chair in the same picture belonged to the 
Rutherfoords; the spinning-wheel was owned by Mrs. Tay- 
lor, the sister of Chief-Justice Marshall of Virginia, and 
descended to her grandson. Dr. William L. Royall; while 

499 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the candelabra of bronze and gold, representing Victory 
holding sconces in the shape of trumpets, were imported 
into the country by Andrew Stevenson, minister to the 
Court of Saint James, and descended by inheritance 
to Mrs. Royall. The only other similar pair in the 
country are at the White House, in Washington. 

Belvoir was of brick and two stories high, with four 
rooms on the ground floor and five on the second, and ser*/- 
ants* hall and cellar below. It was almost entirely fur- 
nished with valuable mahogany articles. 

The " Dining-Room " contained a mahogany five-foot 
sideboard table ; one pair mahogany square card tables ; 
an oval bottle cistern on a frame ; a " sconce glass gilt in 
Burnished Gold" ; twelve mahogany chairs; three crim- 
son morine drapery window curtains ; a large Wilton Per- 
sian carpet; and a "scallopt mahogany voider," a knife tray, 
two dish trays, a "large mahogany cut rim tea tray," tongs, 
shovel, dogs and fender, comprised the list of small articles. 
In the parlour was a mahogany table (dining) ; a " mahog- 
any spider leg table"; "a folding fire screen lined with 
yellow"; two mahogany armchairs covered with figured 
hair ; a chimney-glass ; two Saxon green plain drapery 
curtains ; and dogs, tongs, shovel and fender. In Mrs. 
Fairfax's Chamber : a mahogany chest of drawers ; a bed- 
stead and curtains ; window curtains ; four chairs ; a dressing 
table ; and hearth furniture. In Colonel Fairfax's Room : 
•1 mahogany settee bedstead with Saxon green covers ; a 
mahogany desk ; a mahogany shaving-table ; four chairs 
and covers ; a mahogany Pembroke table ; dogs, shovel, 
tongs and fender. 

Of all the colonial houses now standing, Mount Vernon 
is the most interesting, on account of its associations. /* 

500 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

was built in 1743, by Lawrence Washington, when he 
married Miss Fairfax. Soon after his death in 1751, 
Mount Kenton passed by inheritance to his half-brother, 
George Washington, and here the latter brought his bride 




ELEANOR CUSTIS S HARPSICHORD AND TAMBOUR FRAME 
Now at Mount yernon, Va. Sec page 502. 

in 1759. Six years after Washington came into possession 
of Mount Fernonj he evidently thought his furniture needed 
repairing. 

In 1757, he wrote to Richard Washington: ** Be 
pleased, over and above what I have wrote for in a letter 
of the 1 3th of April, to send me i doz. strong chairs, of 
about 1 5 shillings apiece, the bottoms exactly made by the 
enclosed dimensions, and of three different colours to suit 
the paper of three of the bed-chambers also wrote for in 
my last. I must acquaint you, sir, with the reason of the 

501 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

request. I have one dozen chairs that were made in this 
country ; neat, but too weak for common sitting. I there- 
fore propose to take the bottoms out of those and put 
them into those now ordered, while the bottoms which 
you send will do for the former, and furnish the chambers. 
For this reason the workmen must be very exact, neither 
making the bottoms larger nor smaller than the dimen- 
sions, otherwise the change can't be made. Be kind 
enough to give directions that these chairs, equally with 
the others and the tables, be carefully packed and stowed. 
Without this caution, they are liable to infinite damage." 

In 1759, he again writes to London for "2 more chair 
bottoms, and i more Window Curtain and Cornice." 

He also sent for busts of Alexander the Great, Julius 
Caesar, Charles XII. of Sweden and the King of Prussia, "not 
to exceed fifteen inches in height, nor ten in width," " 2 
other busts of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlbor- 
ough, somewhat smaller, 2 Wild Beasts, not to exceed 
twelve inches in height, nor eighteen in length. Sundry 
ornaments for chimney-piece." 

In 1 76 1, he sends to London, to Mr. Plinius, harpsi- 
chord-maker, in South Audley Street, Grosvenor Square, 
for a good instrument. He also gave a harpsichord to 
Eleanor Custis, his stepdaughter, for a wedding-present. 
This interesting instrument, which appears on page 501, 
has again found its place at Mount Vernon^ and stands in 
the room known as " Miss Custis's Music Room." The 
mahogany stool in front of the harpsichord is somewhat 
clumsy, and the carved dolphins forming the legs contrib- 
ute its one interesting feature. This also belonged to Miss 
Custis, as did the tambour frame. Upon this is a piece 
of her unfinished embroidery. 

50Z 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

When Washington arrived in New York, he first took 
up his residence in the house provided by Congress. This 
was No. 3 Cherry Street and PVanklin Square, and the 
rooms were large and numerous. Mr. Osgood had been 
requested by a Resolution to put the house and the furni- 
ture thereof into proper condition for the residence and 
use of the President of the United States. According to 
an eye-witness, the furniture was extremely plain, but in 
keeping and well disposed, and arranged so as to give prom- 
ise of substantial comfort. Mrs. Washington had sent by 
sea from Mount Vernon many ornaments and other articles, 
including pictures, vases, etc., that they liked to have, on 
account of associations. The rooms of Mount Vernon were 
full of souvenirs and offerings by many admirers. These 
included not only pictures and busts, but various relics, 
such as the key of the Bastille (presented by Lafayette in 
1 789), swords and other arms, and even furniture. Among 
others, Samuel Vaughan, an English admirer, sent to 
Washington in 1785, a magnificent marble mantelpiece, 
specially made in Italy, and three handsome porcelain 
vases. The mantelpiece still stands in the ** Banquet 
Hall." Another interesting object is a carpet that now 
covers the fioor of the West parlour in Mount Vernon. 
This carpet was made for Washington by order of Louis 
XVI., at the Gobelins manufactory, and is shown facing 
page 520. It afterwards came into the possession of the 
Hon. Jasper Yeates, of Lancaster, Pa. It remained on his 
parlour fioor during his lifetime, and until about the middle 
of the present century, when his daughters had possession 
of the house. When the establishment was broken up, 
the carpet was offered for sale. This time it was pur- 
chased by his great-granddaughter, Mrs. Sarah Y. Whelen, of 

5° J 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Philadelphia, and by her presented to the Mount Vernon 
Association. 

It will be noticed that this carpet contains the heraldic 
arms of the new Federal Government, being sown with 
stars and bearing a central medallion of the eagle holding 
an olive branch and the arrows in its two claws, while be- 
low and above the bird are the stars and stripes. In front 
of the mantelpiece stands a chair of the Louis Seize type 
that was presented to General Washington by Lafayette. 
On either side of it are two excellent examples of " Chip- 
pendale" chairs, — mahogany, of course, and in reality devel- 
opments of the old four-back chair that persistently outlives 
all fashions and styles. (See page 87.) The mantelpiece, 
ceiling and wall-panels of this room date from 1743, and 
above the mantelpiece is carved the Washington coat-of- 
arms. George Washington's initials and his crest are cast 
in the iron firebacks. The painting of the panel inserted 
into the mantelpiece is said to represent Admiral Vernon's 
fleet at Cartagena, and was sent to Lawrence Washington 
as a present from Admiral Vernon when he learned that 
the estate was named for him. Lawrence Washington 
owned 2,500 acres, but General Washington increased the 
property to nearly 8,000. He also enlarged the house, 
which is built of stone and brick, with a framework of 
oak. 

Mount Vernon, although in no sense palatial, was com- 
fortable throughout. The " New Roc "^ " was furnished 
handsomely. There were two sideboaroa here, adorned 
with six mahogany knife-cases, China images, and a China 
flower-pot; two candle-stands, two fire-screens, two stools, 
two large looking-glasses and twenty-seven mahogany 
chairs comprised the wooden furniture. The window- 
so* 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

curtains were valuable, as were also **two elegant lustres." 
Two silver-plated lamps contributed additional light, the 
floor was covered with a good mat, and among the orna- 
ments were Ave China jars. The hearth-furniture was com- 
plete, and pictures and prints worth $973 adorned the walls. 




CHAIR FROM MOUNT VERNON AND PAINTHI) ROSEWOOD CARD- 
TABLE FROM PRESTWOUI.D 
Now owned by the Valentine Museum, Richmond, Va. See page 515. 



The "Front Parlour" contained an expensive sofa and 
eleven mahogany chairs. The rest of the furniture con- 
sisted of a rich looking-glass and a tea-table. A handsome 
carpet and window-curtains gave an air of comfort, and 
the logs rested on bright andirons. Three lamps, two 
with mirrors, were not only for light, but were probably 
as ornamental as the five China flower-pots. There were 
many pictures on the walls. 

505 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

A looking-glass, a tea-table, a settee, ten Windsor 
chairs, a carpet, window-curtains, andirons, tongs and fen- 
der and pictures made the "little Parlour" comfortable. 

There were two dining-tables and a tea-table in the 
** Dining-Room," a mahogany sideboard, two knife-cases 
and a large case, an oval looking-glass and ten mahogany 
chairs. Here we find a carpet and window-curtains and 
the usual hearth furniture and pictures. 

In the "Bedroom," there is, of course, a bed, bedstead 
and mattress, a looking-glass, a small table, four mahogany 
or walnut chairs, window curtains and blinds, a carpet, 
andirons, etc., and one large picture. 

In the " Passage," there are fourteen mahogany chairs, 
four images over the door, a spy-glass, a thermometer and 
pictures. 

In the "Closet," we find a fire-screen, and "a machine 
to scrape shoes on"; and on the Verandah or "Piazza" 
there are thirty Windsor chairs. 

A great number of prints are hung along the staircase, 
and a looking-glass is found in the passage on the second 
floor. 

Passing into the " Front Room," we find the carpet 
and window-curtains and open fire that render every room 
so warm and comfortable, a bed, bedstead, and curtains, a 
dressing-table, a large looking-glass, a wash-basin and 
pitcher, and six mahogany chairs. Prints decorate the walls. 

In the " Second Room," the bed, bedstead and curtains 
and window-curtains are first noticeable ; the rest of the 
furniture consists of a looking-glass, a dressing-table, wash- 
basin and pitcher, an armchair and four chairs, a carpet, 
and andirons, etc. A portrait of General Lafayette hangs 
in this room. 

506 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The ** Third Room " has, of course, its carpet, window- 
curtains and andirons, and a very rine bedstead, bed and 
curtains, a chest of drawers, six mahogany chairs, a look- 
ing-glass and wash-basin and pitcher. We also find prints 
on the walls. 

A bed, bedvStead and curtains, carpet and window-cur- 
tains, five mahogany chairs, a pine dressing-table, a large 
looking-glass, a close chair, wash-basin and pitcher, and- 
irons and prints furnish the " Fourth Room." 

In the ** Small Room," we find a bed and bedstead, a 
dressing-table, a washstand, a dressing-glass and three 
Windsor chairs. 

In the " Room which Mrs. Washington now keeps," 
there are a bed, bedsteads and mattress, an oval looking- 
glass, a fender, andirons, etc., a table, three chairs, and a 
carpet; and in " Mrs. Washington's old Room" we note 
a bed, bedstead and curtains, a glass, a dressing-table, a 
writing-table and a writing-chair, an easy-chair, two ma- 
hogany chairs, a chest of drawers, a time-piece, and pictures. 

The "Study" contains quite an odd assortment of fur- 
niture and articles, consisting of a bureau, a tambour secre- 
tary, a walnut table, two pine writing-tables, a writing- 
desk and apparatus, a circular chair, an armchair, a dress- 
ing-table, an oval looking-gkvss, eleven spy-glasses, a case 
of surveying instruments, a globe, two brass candlesticks, 
seven swords and blades, four canes, seven guns, 44 lbs. 1 5 
oz. of plate worth $900, plated ware worth $424, and 
many other articles. 

The most noticeable feature of the furniture of Mount 
Vernon is the great number of chairs in the house, and 
the number of prints and pictures. Altogether there were 
139 chairs worth ^658. 50. The pictures and prints were 

507 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

valued at $2,008.25. The total value of the furniture at 
Mount Vernon equalled $3,420. As the rooms in Mount 
Vernon are not by any means large, they must have been 
very crowded with the articles mentioned above. Where 
the clothing was kept is a mystery, as there are no presses or 
wardrobes in the inventory, and there are no closets in the 
house. Martha Washington's trunk, similar to the cylin- 
drical one facing page 224, is in the Newark Historical 
Society. The size of the trunks makes us wonder, also, 
how the people of the period carried their silks and satins, 
wigs and furbelows from place to place. 

A picture of one side of Washington's bedroom has al- 
ready appeared as the frontispiece to our second chapter ; 
the other side of the same room is shown facing this page. 
Here we find a comfortable armchair of the Louis Seize 
period ; a small candlestand with " snake feet " and revolv- 
ing top ; a very early chair of the Chippendale period, 
as is evidenced by the simple square back and plain jar- 
shaped unperforated splat; a good mahogany library book- 
case of the Chippendale school ; a trunk that accompanied 
Washington on his campaigns ; and a pair of simple brass 
andirons. All of these pieces were used by Washington. 
Two chair cushions embroidered by Mrs. Washington are 
also preserved here. 

After Washington's death in 1799, the house remained 
intact for some years, but Mrs. Washington bequeathed the 
furniture to her four grand-children. Hence the house- 
hold articles and relics were widely scattered ; many pieces 
of furniture and other treasures have, fortunately, found 
their way back, some by gift and some by purchase, since 
the " Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union " 
was organized in 1856. The house with 200 acres was 

$08 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

bought by this society in 1858 from Mr. John A. Wash- 
ington, Jr., and his heirs. 

The house is now a museum of old furniture and relics, 
but there are comparatively few of the Washington posses- 
sions here. Among the original pieces of furniture, we may 
note: a Heppelwhite sideboard and an iron hreback with 
the Fairfax coat-of-arms bought from Bchoir, in the ** Din- 
ing-Room"; clock and vases, silver bracket lamps, rose- 
wood flower-stands, a looking-glass, and an ornament for 
the dining-table in the ** Banquet Hall " ; a corner wash- 
hand stand in " Mrs. Washington's Room " ; and a num- 
ber of chairs that are scattered throughout the house. A 
globe, curtain cornices, and several prints and engravings 
that were originally in Mount Vernon have also been re- 
turned. 

Washington was very particular about his household 
appointments, and was very receptive to the newest fash- 
ions. Soon after his arrival in New York, he had his silver 
plate melted down and reproduced in what were considered 
more elegant and harmonious forms. This was a very 
common practice; we have seen the same thing done a 
century before this (see page 43). 

The President occupied the house in Cherry Street 
only nine months, as it was not sufficiently convenient. 
His new house was on Broadway near Bowling Green : for 
this he paid what was regarded as the extremely high rent 
of $2,500 per annum. Entries in Washington's Diary 
show the minute care he took in household matters. 

** Monday, Feb. i , 1 790. Agreed on Saturday last to 
take Mr. McCombs's house, lately occupied by the Minis- 
ter of France, for one year from and after the first day of 
May next ; and would go into it immediately, if Mr. Otto, 

509 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

the present possessor, could be accommodated ; and this 
day sent my Secretary to examine the rooms to see how my 
furniture could be adapted to the respective apartments." 

" Wednesday, 3d. Visited the apartments in the house 
of Mr. McCombs — made a disposition of the rooms — 
fixed on some furniture of the Minister's (which was to be 
sold, and was well adapted to particular public rooms) — 
and directed additional stables to be built." 

"Saturday, 13th. Walked in the forenoon to the house 
to which I am about to remove. Gave directions for the 
arrangement of the furniture, etc., and had some of it 
put up." 

** Tuesday, i6th. Rode to my intended habitation, and 
gave some directions respecting the arrangement of the 
furniture." 

"Saturday, 20th. Set seriously about removing my 
furniture to my new house. Two of the gentlemen of the 
family had their beds taken there, and would sleep there 
to-night." 

" Tuesday, 23rd. After dinner, Mrs. Washington, my- 
self and children removed, and lodged at our new habita- 
tion." 

"Wednesday, 24th. Employed in arranging matters 
about the house and fixing matters." 

" Thursday, 25th. Engaged as yesterday." 

One of the pieces of furniture that Washington bought 
from the French Minister was a bureau which was after- 
wards an object of special bequest. In his will we read : 
"To my companion in arms and old and intimate friend, 
Dr. Craik, I give my beaureau (or as cabinet-makers call it, 
tambour secretary), and the circular chair, an appendage 
of my study." 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Whether the large mahogany desk that appears on 
this page is the one referred to above, we do not know ; but 
it is certain that Washington used this from 1789 to 1797. 




GEORGE Washington's desk 

Now owned by the Hittorical Society of Pennsylvania. See thii page. 



It is clumsy but very commodious, and the only pretence 
to ornament is the turned balusters at the top and the bell- 
flower, which is unusually large and ungraceful, framing 
the lower drawers. This is inlaid in satin-wood. Above 
the lower drawers are two metal handles, which, when 

5" 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

pulled forward, draw out a slab for writing, and the cylin- 
drical top rolls upward out of sight, like the ordinary office 
desk of to-day. This piece of furniture is now owned by 
the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. 

When the seat of government removed from New 
York to Philadelphia, the President leased the house that 
had successively been occupied by Richard Penn, General 
Howe, Benedict Arnold, Holkar, the French consul, and 
Robert Morris. In his directions to his secretary, Washing- 
ton writes : 

•* Mr. and Mrs. Morris have insisted upon leaving the 
two large looking-glasses which are in their best rooms 
because they have no place, they say, proper to remove 
them to, and because they are unwilling to hazard the tak- 
ing of them down. You will, therefore, let them have in- 
stead, the choice of mine : the large ones I purchased of 
the French minister they do not incline to take, but will 
be glad of some of the others. They will also leave a 
large glass lamp in the entry or hall, and will take one or 
more of my glass lamps in lieu of it. . . . Mrs. Morris 
has a mangle * (I think it is called) for ironing clothes, 
which, -^s it is fixed in the place where it is commonly 
used, she proposes to leave and take mine. To this, I have 
no objection, provided mine is equally good and conveni- 
ent ; but if I should obtain any advantages besides that of 
its being up and ready for use, I am not inclined to receive 
it. 



* It is interesting to note that seven years before this, a mangle had been a novelty to 
Washington, An entry in his ZJ/ary (September 3, 1787) reads: " Phila. — In Convention 
. visited a machine at Dr. Franklin's (called a mangle) for pressing in place of 
ironing clothes from the wash — which machine from the facility with which it despatches 
business is well calculated for tablecloths, and such articles as have not pleats and irregular 
foldings, and would be very useful in all large families/' He evidently bought one soon. 

5" 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

" I have no particular direction to give respecting the 
appropriation of the furniture. By means of the how win- 
dows the hack rooms will hecome the largest, and, of 
course, will receive the furniture of the largest dining- and 
drawing-rooms, and in that case, though there are no clos- 




CHAIR FROM WASHINGTON'S PRESIDENTIAL MANSION, PHILADELPHIA 
Now owned by the Historical Society of Phibdelphia, Pennsylvania. See page j 14-1 5. 



cts in them, there are some in the steward's room, directly 
opposite, which are not inconvenient. There is a small 
room adjoining the kitchen, that might, if it is not essen- 
tial for other purposes, he appropriated for the Sevres china, 
and other things of that sort, which are not in common 
use. Mrs. Morris, who is a notahle lady in family arrange- 
ments, can give you much information on all the conveni- 
ences about the house and buildings, and I dare say would 



sn 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

rather consider it a compliment to be consulted in those 
matters, than a trouble to give her opinion of them. 

** I approve, at least till inconvenience or danger shall 
appear, of the large table ornaments remaining on the side- 
board, and of the pagodas standing in the smallest drawing- 
room. Had I delivered my sentiments from here respect- 
ing this fixture, that is the apartment I should have named 
for it. Whether the green, which you have, or a new yellow 
curtain, should be appropriated to the staircase above the 
hall, may depend on your getting an exact match, in colour, 
and so forth of the latter. For the sake of appearances 
one. would not in instances of this kind, regard a small 
additional expense.'* 

An account of a visit to this house is given by Thomas 
Twining, who writes : 

" At one o'clock to-day I called at General Washing- 
ton's with the picture and letter I had for him. He lived 
in a small red brick house on the left side of High Street, 
not much higher up than Fourth Street. There was noth- 
ing in the exterior of the house that denoted the rank 
of its possessor. Next door was a hair-dresser. Having 
stated my object to a servant who came to the door, I 
was conducted up a neat but rather narrow staircase car- 
peted in the middle, and was shown into a middling- 
sized, well-furnished drawing-room on the left of the 
passage. Nearly opposite the door was the fireplace, 
with a wood fire in it. The floor was carpeted. On the 
left of the fireplace was a sofa which sloped across the 
room. There were no pictures on the walls, no ornaments 
on the chimney-piece. Two windows on the right of the 
entrance looked into the street." 

On page 5 1 3 appears a chair that was in the Presi- 

5«4 




MUSICAL GLASSES IN MAHOGANY FRAME 

OwmtJ by Mrj. John Taylot Ftrrim^ Baltimort^ MJ. Set fagt j»J. 




h - 

O t 

u, .5 

< ^ 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

dcntial Mansion in Philadelphia. It is a good example 
of the Louis Seize period. It is painted white and gilt, 
while the upholstering is of white brocade sprinkled with 
flowers of bright hue. This valuable chair is now owned 




CHAIR GIVEN BY GEORGE WASHINGTON TO READ 
Owned by hit de«cen<)jnt, Mr. H. Pumpelly Read, Albany, N. Y. See page ;i6. 

by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphir. 
Another chair owned by Washington is seen on page 505. 
This is of the Heppelwhite school. What the wood is 
we cannot tell, for it is painted white. The seat is orange 
plush. The chair was originally in Mount Vemoriy but is 
now owned by the Valentine Museum, Richmond, Va. 

S»5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

Other specimens of furniture from Mount Vernon appear on 
page 119 and page 123. 

Washington was not only fond of furnishing his own 
home, but sometimes gave presents of furniture to his 
friends. On page 5 1 5 is represented a chair that he gave 
to George Read, a signer of the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence, and which is now owned by the latter's descendant, 
Mr. H. Pumpelly Read of Albany, N. Y. It is in the 
Sheraton style with fluted legs and the lyre-back, which 
was so popular in the Louis Seize period and so frequently 
used by Sheraton. This has been restored according to 
tradition, and is painted white picked out with gold. 

Scarcely second in interest to Mount Vernon is Monticello, 
the home of Thomas Jefferson, though its remoteness 
makes it practically inaccessible to the patriotic tourist. 
All the distinguished foreigners who came to this country 
and recorded their impressions h-ave left glowing accounts 
of the house, its beautiful situation among the Blue Ridge 
Mountains, and its hospitable owner. Levasseur, who ac- 
companied Lafayette on his visit there in 1825, thus de- 
scribes the mansion : 

" The hospitality of Mr. Jefferson is proverbial, his 
house is constantly open, not only to numerous visitors from 
the neighbourhood, but also to all the foreign travellers who 
were attracted by curiosity or the very natural desire of 
seeing and conversing with the sage of Monticello. The 
dwelling is built in the figure of an irregular octagon, with 
porticoes at the east and west, and peristyles on the north 
and south. Its extent comprising the peristyles and porti- 
coes is about I I o feet by 90 ; the exterior is in the Doric 
order, and surmounted by balustrades. The interior of the 
house is ornamented in the different orders of architecture, 

516 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

except the composite ; the vestibule is Doric ; the dining- 
room, Doric; the drawing-room, Corinthian; and the 
dome, Attic. The chambers are ornamented in the differ- 
ent forms of these orders in true proportion as given by 
Palladio. Throughout this delightful dwelling are to be 
found proofs of the good taste of the proprietor, and of his 
enlightened love for the arts. His parlour is ornamented 
by a beautiful collection of paintings, among which we 
remarked with pleasure an Ascension by Poussin, a holy 
family by Raphael ; a Hagellation of Christ by Rubens, and 
a crucifixion by Guido. In the dining-room were four 
beautiful busts of Washington, Franklin, Lafayette and 
Paul Jones. There were also some other fine pieces of 
sculpture in different parts of the house. The library, 
without being extensive, is well selected ; but what espe- 
cially excites the curiosity of visitors is the rich museum 
situated at the entrance of the house. This extensive and 
excellent collection consists of offensive and defensive arms, 
dresses, ornaments, and utensils of different savage tribes of 
North America." 

We have no means of forming an exact idea of the 
contents of each of the rooms in Monticelloy because, in 
his will, Jefferson departed from the usual custom : " In 
consequence of the variety and indescribableness of the ar- 
ticles of property within the house of Mofiticello^ and the 
difficulty of inventorying and appraising them separately 
and specifically, and its inutility, 1 dispense with having 
them inventoried and appraised." In i8i 5, however, Jef- 
ferson had drawn up a list of his taxable property in Albe- 
marle County. At that date the household furniture con- 
sisted of: "4 clocks, I bureau or secretary (mahogany), 2 
book cases do., 4 chests of drawers, do., i side board with 

S«7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

doors and drawers (mahogany), 8 separate parts of dining 
table do., i 3 tea and card tables, do., 6 sophas with gold 
leaf, 36 chairs (mahogany), 44 do. gold leaf, 1 1 pr. win- 
dow curtains foreign, 16 portraits in oil, i do. crayon, 64 
pictures, prints and engravings, with frames more than i 2 
in., 39 do. under 12 in. with gilt frames, 3 looking glasses 
5 ft. long, I 3 do. 4 ft. and not 5 ft., i do. 3 ft. and not 4 
ft., 2 do. 2 ft. and not 3 ft., i harpischord, 2 silver 
watches, 2 silver coffee pots, 3 plated urns and coffee pots, 
1 3 plated candlesticks, 4 cut glass decanters, i o silver 
cups." 

The mahogany bureau or secretary mentioned above 
appears on page 519. It nov/ belongs to Miss Eva Mar- 
shall Thomas of Richmond, Va., and was purchased at the 
Monticello sale by Governor Gilmer. Colonel John Rus- 
sell Jones from Albemarle, Va., was also a bidder. At the 
sale of Governor Gilmer's effects, Colonel Jones was enabled 
to gain possession of it, and through him it descended 
to Miss Thomas. 

It is interesting to find that Jefferson's keen intellect 
recognized that objects associated with the genesis of the 
United States were likely to become intensely interesting 
on that account, and that he regarded such a reverential 
attitude of mind as entirely proper, as the following corre- 
spondence published in the Collections of the Massachusetts 
Historical Society proves. 

He writes to his grand-daughter, Ellen W. Coolidge, 
from Monticello^ November 14, 1825 : " I received a letter 
from a friend in Philadelphia lately, asking information of 
the house, and room of the house there, in which the 
Declaration of Independence was written, with a view to 
future celebrations of the 4th of July in it; another enquir- 

518 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

ing whether a paper given to the Philosophical Society 
there, as a rough draught of that Declaration was genuinely 
so. A society is formed there lately for an annual celebra- 
tion of the advent of Penn to that place. It was held in 
his antient mansion, and the chair in which he actually 
sate when at his writing table was presented by a lady 




THOMAS Jefferson's desk 

Owned by Miu Eva Marthall Thomas, Richmond, Va. Seepage 518. 

owning it, and was occupied by the president of the cele- 
bration. Two other chairs were given them, made of the 
elm under the shade of which Penn had made his first 
treaty with the Indians. If these things acquire a super- 
stitious value because of their connection with particular 
persons, surely a connection with the great Charter of our 
Independence may give a value to what has been associated 
with that ; and such was the idea of the enquirers after the 
room in which it was written. Now I happen still to possess 
the writing-box on which it was written. It was made from 

5«9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

a drawing of my own by Ben. Randall, a cabinet-maker in 
whose house I took my first lodgings on my arrival in Phila- 
delphia in May, 1777, and I have used it ever since. It 
claims no merit of particular beauty. It is plain, neat 
convenient, and, taking no more room on the writing- 
table than a moderate 4to volume, it yet displays itself suf 
ticiently for any writing. Mr. Coolidge must do me tlu 
favour of accepting this. Its imaginary value will increast 
with years, and if he lives to my age, or another half-cen- 
tury, he may see it carried in the procession of our nation 'j 
birthday, as relics of the Saints are in those of the Church. 
I will send it thro' Col. Peyton, and hope with better for- 
tune than that for which it is to be a substitute." * 

Mr. Joseph Coolidge's reply was as follows ; 

*' The desk arrived safely, furnished with a precious 
document which adds very greatly to its value ; for the 
same hand which, half a century ago, traced upon it the 
words which have gone abroad upon the earth, now attests 
its authenticity and consigns it to myself. When I think 
of the desk ' in connection with the great charter of our in- 
dependence,' I feel a sentiment almost of awe, and ap- 
proach it with respect ; but when I remember that it 
has served you fifty years, been the faithful depository of 
your cherished thoughts, that upon it have been written 
your letters to illustrious and excellent men, good plans for 
the advancement of civil and religious liberty and of art 
•and science, that it has, in fact, been the companion oi 
your studies and the instrument of diffusing their results 
that it has been a witness of a philosophy which calumny 

* This desk was presented to the United States by the heirs of Mr. Joseph Coolidg- 
(See Proceedings in the Senate and House of Representatives, April 23, 1880, on th: 
Occasion of the Presentation of Thomas Jefferson's writing-desk.) 

520 




WEST PARLOUR, MOUNT VERNON 
Sn fmgt joj. 




LADY'S \VR1TI\G-DKSK 
Ozvned by Charles B. Tiernan, Esq., Baltimore, Md. See pages 532-3. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

could not subdue, and of an enthusiasm which eighty 
winters have not chilled, — I would fain consider it as no 
longer inanimate and mute, but as something to be interro- 
gated and caressed." 

Another desk belonging to one of the makers of 
American history appears on page 491. This is a simple 
mahogany desk originally owned by President Madison 
and now the property of Mrs. George Ben Johnston, 
Richmond, Va. • 

It is well known how fond of music Thomas Jefferson 
was. He not only played the violin, but he seems to have 
been alive to all the new inventions. 

While visiting Philadelphia in 1 800, Thomas Jeffer- 
son writes to his daughter : ** A very ingenious, modest 
and poor young man in Philadelphia, has invented one of 
the prettiest improvements in the pianoforte that I have 
seen, and it has tempted me to engage one for Monticello. 
His strings are perpendicular, and he contrives within that 
height to give his strings the same length as in a grand 
pianoforte, and fixes the three unisons to the same screw. 
It scarcely gets out of tune at all, and then, for the most 
part, the three unisons are tuned at once." 

This must have been similar to the keyed harp which 
J. A. Guttwaldt, 75 Maiden Lane, advertises in the Even- 
ing Post^ in 1818, as ** a musical instrument that perfectly 
equals the harp in sound, and tar surpasses it in point of 
easy treatment, as it is played like the piano, by means of 
keys, and consequently has all the advantages of brilliant 
modulation ; the only one in the United States." This 
instrument was, undoubtedly, the piano-harp, which is some- 
times erroneously called harpsichord. 

Jefferson's interest in music never abated. We find his 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

grand-daughter, Ellen W. Coolidge, writing to him from 
Boston on December 26, 1825: "I have written a long 
letter and in great part by candle-light, but I cannot close 
without saying that the brandy, etc., will be shipped in about 
a week along with a piano built for Virginia in this town, 
a very beautiful piece of workmanship, and doing, I think, 
great credit to the young mechanic whom we employed, 
and whose zeal was much stimulated by the knowledge 
that his work would pas's under your eye. The tones of 
the instrument are line, and its interior structure compares 
most advantageously with that of the English-built pianos, 
having, we think, a decided superiority. The manufac- 
turer believes that it will be to his advantage to have it 
known that he was employed in such a work for you, or 
what amounts to the same thing, for one of your family, 
living under your roof. Willard, the clock-maker, is, as I 
mentioned before, very solicitous to have the making of 
the time-piece for the University, has already begun it 
[upon his own responsibility and knowing the circumstances 
of the case, as we have taken care to mislead or deceive 
him in nothing), and wishes to be informed exactly as to 
the dimensions of the room in which the clock is to 
stand." 

Thomas Jefferson replies from Monticello^ May 1 9, 
1826: "The pianoforte is also in place, and Mrs. Carey 
happening here has exhibited to us its full powers, which 
are indeed great. Nobody slept the 1st night, nor is the 
tumult yet over on this the 3rd day of its emplacement^ 

In 1824, we find in the New York Evening Post an 
advertisement that a Mr. Cartwright will perform on the 
" Musical Glasses' at 63 Liberty Street, and that the selec- 
tions will be " English, Scotch and Irish melodies." This 

51s 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

brings to our notice an interesting instrument that was 
very popular in the early part of the nineteenth century. 
It is known by the name of Harmonicon as well as that of 
Musical Glasses. A very handsome specimen of this appears 
facing page 514. 

The twenty-four glasses are shaped like ordinary finger- 
bowls, except that they are fastened into the sounding-board 
by means of short stems. Each glass contains on the front 
the letter of the note it gives when the wet finger is ap- 
plied to it. The glasses are placed in four rows of six 
glasses each. 

This curious instrument also forms an interesting piece 
of furniture. Its frame and case are mahogany. The 
arrangement of its two back pillars suggests the console 
table. The box containing the glasses rests upon these 
and is supported in the front by a lyre terminating in beau- 
tifully carved eagles' heads. The strings on the lyre are 
inlaid brass. The fanciful shaped base stands upon lions' 
claws, while beneath the pillars the ball and acanthus leaf 
occur. This Harmonicon was originally owned by Mrs. 
John Prosser of Gloucester County, Va., who bought it 
about eighty years ago. It became the property of her 
daughter, Mrs. John Tabb of White Marshy Va., and de- 
scended through her son, Dr. John Prosser Tabb, to his 
daughter, Mrs. John Tayloe Perrin of Baltimore. It was 
played for the entertainment of Gen. Robert E. Lee when 
he visited White Marsh in 1866. 

These instruments are quite rare, though occasionally 
they are seen in museums devoted to musical curiosities. 
A similar instrument is owned by Mr. Henry Kellogg ol 
Lutherville, Md., and another by Mr. E. G. Butler of 
Dabney, N. C. 

5»J 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

What we particularly notice regarding musical instru- 
ments at the period under review is the continued popu- 
larity of the harpsichord and the introduction and popularity 
of its successor, the pianoforte. The latter is a much older 
instrument than is commonly supposed. Its origin is 
usually attributed to Cristofori, a harpsichord-maker of 
Padua, and the date of its appearance, 1709. The name, 
however, is traced to 1598. Until 1760, all pianos were 
made in the wing-shape, which we now call " grands," 
but in that year, Zumpe, a German maker, introduced 
the ** square." It was also about 1760 that twelve skil- 
ful German workmen went to London, became associated 
with the Broadwoods, and have since been known as " the 
twelve apostles " of piano-making. One of them was 
John Geib, the inventor of the " grass-hopper action," 
whose sons became conspicuous in New York. William 
Southall of Dublin patented a " cabinet " or " upright " in 
1807; but in 1794 the same maker, "with the addition 
of treble keys," gave the piano six octaves — from F to F. 
" Pianos with additional keys " are frequently advertised 
in the New York newspapers from this time onward. In 
1797, " Michael Canschut, Forte Piano-maker," has "just 
finished an elegant well-toned Grand Forte piano with ad- 
ditional keys and double-bridged sounding board — the first 
of the kind ever made in this city." This was probably Mr. 
Southall's patent. The London makers soon begin to send 
instruments to America, and it is not long before branch 
houses or new manufactories are established in various 
parts of the United States. One of these dealers was John 
Jacob Astor, who began to import pianos to this country 
about 1763. In 1783, he sailed for Baltimore, with some 
flutes, but fell in with a fur dealer, which chance led him 

5*4 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

into the fur business. He exported furs and imported pianos 
until furs absorbed all of his energies. He was succeeded 
about I 802 by John and Michael Paff. 

Another early maker was Charles Albrecht, who made 
pianos in Philadelphia before 1789, the date upon the ex- 




HIANOFORTE 



Made by Charles Albrtcht, PbiUdelphui, 1789 ; in the collection of the Hittorical Society of Philadel- 
phia, Pa. See below. 

ample owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 
Philadelphia and represented on this page. The case is 
perfectly simple and of no special interest. It will be seen 
that this has only four octaves and four keys, and the fact 
that it has no pedals shows that it is an exceedingly primi- 
tive instrument. 

In 1 801, J. Hewitt, 59 Maiden Lane, sells "grand 
pianofortes, uprights and longways, with additional keys, 

5*5 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

square ditto with or without additional keys"; and he also 
has ** organs, violins, violoncellos, bows, kits, flutes, clar- 
inets, hoboys, horns, bassoons, carillons, and Roman 
strings, etc." 

In 1802, music and musical instruments could be pur- 
chased from George Gilfert, 1 77 Broadway, and in the 
same year John and Michael PafF, 127 Broadway, adver- 
tise "50 square patent to F, with additional keys to F F ; 
2 grand pianofortes, a harpsichord, and an upright grand 
pianoforte"; and in 1806 they advertise " two very elegant 
Satten Wood pianofortes." Gibson and Davis, 58 Warren 
Street, also sold pianofortes for a great many years from 
1803. D. Mazzinghi, i i Murray Street, advertises in 1803 
" pianofortes from London, made by Astor, Bell, and de- 
menti." 

In I 816, John Paff has some pianofortes from London, 
costing from $200 to $300. For grand upright pianos, in 
I 8 1 7, you could ** inquire at Mr. Phyfe's Cabinet Ware- 
House, Fulton Street " ; and, in the same year, John and 
Adam Geib & Co. advertise a ** superb musical clock man- 
ufactured in Paris, which plays a large variety of the best 
music, set on six barrels, and is united with a flrst-rate 
time-piece. It is perhaps superior to anything of the kind 
imported into the United States; being valued at thirteen 
hundred dollars ; and is ofl^ered for sale at that price, or 
will be exhibited to any Lady or Gentleman who will hon- 
our the above firm with a call at their Piano Forte ware- 
house and wholesale and retail music store, No. 23 Maiden 
Lane." 

The two Geibs just mentioned were among the most 
important of the early pianoforte-makers in New York. 
They were the sons of John Geib, already spoken of on 

516 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

page 524. We find them in New York, at 23 Maiden 
Lane, selling pianos made by Geib, Broadwood, Astor, and 
Clementi. The name Geib appears early in the New 
York newspapers. John Geib and Son (1807) "respect- 
fully inform the public and the lovers of the arts that they 
have just constructed a Forte Piano on a new plan, it hav- 
ing 4 pedals: ist, the Harp; 2d, the Bassoon; 3d, the 
Full Chorus : 4th, the Swell, to which they invite the cu- 
rious and ingenious, hoping it will meet their approbation." 
In 1 82 1, J. H. and W. Geib have for sale "a large and 
handsome assortment of Piano Fortes of the latest fashion, 
and of superior tone and workmanship, among which are 
many made by Clementi and Co. and Astor and Co. of 
London." These were for sale at their wholesale and 
retail store, 23 Maiden Lane. 

In 1822, A. & W. Geib have removed from 23 Mai- 
den Lane to their manufactory, Greenwich, in Barton 
Street; and in 1823, A. & W. Geib "have reopened their 
store, 23 Maiden Lane, where they offer an extensive as- 
sortment of pianofortes of their own manufacture, also 
some by Clementi and Broadwood." They have an exe- 
cutor's sale in the same year of articles belonging to the 
estate of John Geib, consisting of two elegant superior 
toned dementi's pianos, one do., round end pillar and 
claw ; one do. doz. rosewood do. and two square and com- 
mon do." In 1825 A. and VV. Geib have at their "piano- 
forte warehouse, 23 Maiden Lane," " two very elegant 
rosewood pianofortes just from the manufactory." 

This firm disappears from the New York directories in 
1828, when William removes "up-town" to Eleventh 
Street. Therefore, the very handsome pianoforte that faces 
page 5 1 6, bearing the inscription : " New Patent, A. and 

5*7 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

W. Geib, 23 Maiden Lane, New York," must have been 
made between the years 1823 and 1828, and may indeed 
have been one of the rosewood pianos advertised in 1825. 
This must have been in its day a very excellent instrument. 
It is now a very beautiful piece of furniture. The case is 
made of extremely handsome rosewood and is ornamented 
with two bands of ornate brasswork. The name-plate is sur- 
rounded by a cluster of daisies and morning-glories painted 
with that green metallic colouring that at this period was 
used so universally to decorate the backs of the *' Fancy 
Chair." On either side of these flowers is a latticework, each 
square of which is carved and is decorated in the centre with a 
golden dot. Behind the latticework is a piece of sapphire 
velvet. A thin gold thread is painted above this decoration 
and again appears on the outside at the rounded ends where 
it forms a square. Below the two bands of metal and above 
the legs, three drawers will be noticed. The little draw- 
ers at the ends are furnished with one handsome brass knob, 
and each is lined with red velvet. The central drawer 
has two knobs. Above each of the legs a very elaborate 
medallion forms not only a decoration, but is evidently a 
necessity for hiding the screw or pin by which the leg is 
held to the body of the instrument. Such ornaments are 
invariably seen on the legs of the high-post bedsteads. 
The six legs of this piano are turned and carved with the 
acanthus in high relief, and above the carving an ornate 
band of delicately chiselled brass contributes an additional 
ornament. In the centre and a little to the left is the 
pedal, and it is interesting to compare this with the pedals 
on the harpsichord represented on page 501. The piano 
on page 525 has no pedals. 

We have already seen that musical and chiming-clocks 

5*» 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 




SECRETARY GIVEN BY JOSEPH BONAPARTE TO STEPHEN GIRARD 
Now in Girird College, Philadelphia. See page 530. 



were in vogue before the Revolution (see pages 303—4). 
In 1776, we find an advertisement that ** Mervin Perrv re- 
peating and plain Clock and Watchmaker from London, 
where he has improved himself under the most eminent and 

5*9 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

capital artists in those branches, has opened shop in Han- 
over Square at the Sign of the Dial. He mends and re- 
pairs musical, repeating, quarterly, chime, silent pull and 
common weight clocks." 

Clocks with automata are sometimes imported. For 
example : 

George J. Warner, lo Liberty Street, in 1795, has 
" two musical chamber clocks, with moving figures, which 
play four tunes each on two setts of elegantly well-toned 
bells, and show the hour, minute, and day of the week." 
Musical clocks with figures, and cuckoo clocks, could be 
had at Kerner and Pafl^'s, 245 Water Street (1796); Ed- 
ward Meeks, Jr., 1 14 Maiden Lane, " has eight-day jclocks 
and chiming time-pieces" (1796). 

In I 8 I 5— 16, Stolenwerck and Brothers have for sale at 
157 Broadway "a superb musical cabinet or Panharmoni- 
con combined with a secretary and clock. The music, 
which goes by weights in the manner of a clock, consists 
of a selection of the finest pieces by the most celebrated 
composers, and is perfect. On opening the door of the 
Secretary a beautiful colonnade of alabaster pillars with 
gilded capitals and bases is displayed. The whole is about 
7 feet high, surmounted with a marble figure of Urania 
leaning on a globe, round which a zone revolves and indi- 
cates the hours. It was made at Berlin in Prussia, and cost 
$1,500." 

This must have been somewhat similar to the secretary 
shown on page 529, a present from Joseph Bonaparte to 
Stephen Girard, and now in Girard College, Philadelphia. 
This is of satin wood ornamented with ormoulu. The col- 
umns are of marble with brass capitals. In the centre of 
the arch, a clock is placed, and the secretary is equipped 

530 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

with a fine musical box. A similar piece of furniture is 
owned by Theodore B. Woolsey, Esq., New York. 

Occasionally a valuable and rare specimen finds its way 
across the Atlantic. In 1801, David F. Launay, watch- 
maker. No. 9 Warren Street, has "a high finished clock 
which decorated the library of the late King of France, 
made by Charles Bertrand of the Royal Academy ; its 
original price, 5,000 livres; to be sold for 500 dollars"; and 
in I 817, Ruffier & Co., importers of French Dry Goods, 
142 Broadway, advertise, "bronze clock work, a large mon- 
ument, in Bronze and Gilt ornaments, erected to the hon- 
our of the brave who fell in the ever memorable Battle of 
Waterloo, June the 18th, 181 5," and "Statue of the Em- 
peror Napoleon in imitation of that placed at the top of 
the column, erected at the Place Vendome in Paris, on a 
marble pedestal, ornamented with gilt and of a fine execu- 
tion. 

However, it must not be imagined that the tall clock 
has disappeared. Facing page 540 is represented one with 
a case of cherry neatly inlaid. This was made in Connec- 
ticut about I 800, and is now owned by Mr. Walter Hos- 
mer, Wethersfield, Conn. On the same plate is a variety 
of clock that has become very common. It is frequently 
called the "banjo clock." This specimen, which belongs 
to Mrs. Wainwright, Hartford, Conn., is about three feet 
long. The square base in which, of course, the pendulum 
swings, is about twelve inches square. The pictures that 
decorate the front are painted on glass, and the framework 
is gilt. 

Joseph Bonfanti, 305 Broadway, advertises in 1823, 
" German clocks some plain with music and some with 
moving figures," and French clocks " some with music and 

S3« 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

will play different tunes," also " ladies' musical work- 
boxes and musical snufF-boxes." All sorts of novelties 
could be purchased at Joseph Bonfanti's shop, and in 1824 
he constantly endeavours to attract customers by verses 
proclaiming his wares. For example : 

" Large elegant time-pieces playing sweet tunes^ 

And cherry stones too that hold ten dozen spoons^ 
And clocks that chime sweetly on nine little bells. 
And boxes so neat ornamented with shells. 

#X* JfC JfJ 

" His drawing-room ornaments whiter than plaster, 
A beautiful stuff which is called alabaster; 
For beauty and elegance nothing surpasses. 

Arranged on the chimney-piece in front of the glasses. 

*jC JjC J^ 

*' Here ladies may buy musical work-boxes gay. 

Which while they sit working will prettily play ; 
Superb magic lanterns and tea-trays japanned. 

Hair lockets, steel watch chains, quills, wafers and sand." 

We have noted the many kinds of furniture specially 
designed by Sheraton for ladies, and naturally the Ameri- 
can papers from about 1 8 i o onward frequently advertise 
work-tables, letter-cases, work-boxes, etc., and these are 
often furnished with musical boxes, such as Bonfanti de- 
scribes, and clocks. The work-table, with its drawers, its 
compartments for small articles and its pouch, was found in 
every household. We have given two examples on pages 
4,81 and ^83. The letter-case was a desk that partook 
,^mewhat of the form of a screen and could be conven- 
iently moved in front of the fire. One, now in Mount 
^^r«o«, appears on page i 19 and another on page 473. A 
lady's desk, very similar in shape, facing page 524, belongs 
to Charles B. Tiernan, Esq., Baltimore, Md., and was im- 

53a 




MAHOGANY SIDEBOARD 

Owntd by Mrs. Cbarlti S. FaircbiU^ Catumovia, N. T". See page jj6. 




"BANJO CLOCK" CLOCK WITH CHERRY CASE 

Ouned by Mrs. fVainzvright, Hartjord, Conn. Owned by Mr. Walter Hosmer, fV ethers field , 
See page S3^- Conn. See page $^1. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 



ported from Europe for his mother. The drawers are 
delicately inlaid with ivory in conventional garlands and are 
furnished with very small ivory knobs. The ornamental 
head of the desk contains a musical box and clock. 

The work-table shown on 
this page is interesting as a piece 
of furniture and on account of its 
history. It was designed for the 
charming Lady Blessington, by 
her admirer, Count d'Orsay, and 
stood in the drawing-room at 
Gore House for several years, be- 
fore misfortune visited it. When 
Lady Blessington fled to France, 
the sherifFseized the furniture and 
held a sale at Gore House. This 
work-table was purchased by Mr. 
Featherstonhaugh, who brought it 
to America. It is now owned by 
his son, Mr. George W. Feather- 
stonhaugh, in Schenectady, N. Y. 

The table is of a peculiar, 
vase-shaped form, and is but thirty inches high. It is eigh- 
teen inches across the top, which opens back upon a hinge, 
revealing a well surrounded by nine small compartments for 
small articles. The exterior is of hard polished wood, in- 
laid all over with wreaths of roses and forget-me-nots and 
birds. The colours of the leaves and petals of the flowers, 
as well as the feathers of the birds, are executed in variously 
coloured woods. The beautiful and delicate marquetry, as 
well as the graceful design, render this a most valuable and 
curious piece of cabinet-work. 

533 




LADY 



BLESSINGTON S 
TABLE 



WORK- 



Owned by Mr. George W. Fe«ther»ton- 
haugh, Schenectady, N. Y. See this page. 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

During the Revolution, New York being in the hands 
of the British, the city retained its character as a busy 
mart, though, of course, importations of furniture were not 
as extensive as in times of peace. The New York news- 
papers contain frequent notices of auctions of household 
goods by returning officers and other officials and gentry. 
In 1780, the following advertisement appeared in the New 
Tork Gazette, and is typical of many : 

" All the elegant, useful and ornamental house furniture 
of a gentleman going to England, viz., a variety of plate, 
china and glass, mahogany chairs, tables, desks, bureaus, 
sideboard and cellaret, mahogany bedsteads, with rich dam- 
ask harrateen and copper-plate furniture and window cur- 
tains to match, very best feather beds and bedding, elegant 
carpets, looking-glasses, cases of knives and forks, table 
linen, fuzee and bayonet, silver-mounted pistols, handsome 
swords, perspective glasses, a prime violin of the softest 
tone, an iron chest, Madeira and claret wine, arrack, a 
number of books, brass andirons, and all kinds of kitchen 
furniture." 

The above mention of sideboard and cellaret reminds 
us that the sideboard was just coming into fashion, taking 
the place of the plain sideboard-table. Examples of Hep- 
pelwhite and Sheraton sideboards have been given in the 
last chapter, and on page 535 is another specimen from the 
Gansevoort home, Whitehall, which was the headquarters 
of the British Governor in Albany. The knife-boxes, with 
the knives, standing upon it and the cellaret below, are of 
the same date and belong to it. These articles are now 
owned by Mr. Leonard Ten Eyck, Albany, N. Y. 

Sideboards are frequently advertised in New York, the 
wine-cooler or cellaret often receives special mention. In 

534 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

1808, "Egyptian wine-coolers*' are introduced. This was 
" an entirely new patent cooler, very elegantly press'd with 




MAHOGANY SIDEBOARD, KNIFE-BOXES AND CELLARET, FROM WHITE- 
HALL, THE OANSEVOORT HOME 
Ownrd by Mr. Lronard Ten Eyck. S«e page 534. 

superb figures, and undoubtedly the very best thing ever 
used for the purpose. It is made of the finest clay un- 
glaz'd, is of a salmon colour, and a handsome ornament to 
any dining-table." 

ill 



THE FURNITURE OF OUR FOREFATHERS 

The specimen facing page 532 is a fine example of 
native workmanship. It was made in New York in 1807 
for the alcove in which it stands. This piece of furniture, 
as well as the house, Lorenzo^ built at Cazenovia, New York, 
by John Lincklaen in 1807, is owned by Mr. and Mrs. 
Charles S. Fairchild. It is of mahogany. The capitals of 
the pillars and the claw feet are well carved and the ring 
handles are original. The mirror above it and the candle- 
sticks, china and chairs all belong to the same period. 

In 1823, we find advertisements of " elegant sideboards 
inlaid with rosewood," ** highly polished marble slabs for 
sideboards from Italy," and "plain and inlaid carved col- 
umn and claw feet sideboards." The latter description 
evidently fits Mrs. Fairchild's piece, which thus continued 
a fashionable model for many years. 

Still another variety appears on page 498. This speci- 
men, owned by the American Antiquarian Society of Wor- 
cester, Mass., is of mahogany with semi-circular front. 
The ever popular bell-flower is carved above the legs, and 
the lower open